back to listings SME Profile: HOST Policy Research

Established in 1986, HOST’s central office is in Horsham, West Sussex, but our professional staff are based across the country including Plymouth, Bristol, Birmingham, Coventry, Sheffield, Tyneside, Peterborough, London and Chichester. HOST provides a full range of policy research, monitoring and evaluation studies, and development services for government departments and agencies, and others in the public, private and voluntary sectors.  Recent projects have ranged in value from £7,800 up to £350,000, and in length from six weeks rapid response projects to three year longitudinal studies.

In the 24 years HOST has been operating, we have built up substantial expertise in the principles and practice of independent research and evaluation, with particular strengths in the following areas:

  • Education and young people.
  • Adult and workplace learning.
  • Employment and labour market.
  • Qualifications and skills change.
  • Enterprise and economic development.
  • Sectoral and occupational studies.

HOST has built an international reputation and has a strong track record across the public sector for practically focused evaluation and developmental studies.  HOST’s work is widely recognised as practical as well as authoritative and we regularly produce practical guidance material as part of our work – examples of this include:

  • A Guide to Impact Assessment.
  • Best Practice in Tackling NEETs.
  • Developing a Research Strategy.
  • Accessing and Using International Comparative Information.
  • Commissioning External Research.
  • Conducting Evaluation Activities.

We also run workshops on impact assessment and evaluation techniques.

HOST holds framework agreements with the LSC National Office (in six areas: Good Practice, Operational Evaluation, Strategic Evaluation, Offender Learning (OLASS), Qualification and Credit Framework (QCF) and General Adult Learning), Skills for Health, Energy and Utility Skills, Department for Work and Pensions (in three areas: Ageing and Pensions; General Labour Market Research, Integrating Employment and Skills and Welfare to Work Programme Evaluation; and Commissioning, Performance and Business Delivery), Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) and BIS.

As well as providing a full range of qualitative and quantitative research services, HOST has its own internal survey unit providing a range of techniques including postal, electronic and telephone surveys.

Since 2002, HOST has conducted approaching 60 programme and policy evaluations at national and regional level, much of this through our series of Framework Agreements.  A fifth of these evaluations have been of pilot-scale initiatives with an emphasis on recommendations for roll-out.

A particular methodological emphasis has been impact assessment, where HOST harnesses techniques such as triangulation, control group contrasts, distance travelled (soft indicators), and participant tracking methods, for groups as diverse as disaffected young people to ex-offenders, and returners to the labour market, and disabled people.  HOST expertise in this area has been called on also by European bodies, including a cross-European systematic evidence review (Cedefop) of impact assessment methods for active labour market policies.

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