Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted)
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Companies and learners gain real benefits from work-related training

Employers reap the benefits of better motivated and more highly skilled staff when they get involved in work-related training such as apprenticeships, according to a report published today by Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills.

The report, Good practice in involving employers in work-related education and training, highlights that training developed by providers working closely with companies helps employees - and new employees - make greater contributions to the effectiveness of their business.

By taking part in such schemes, employers in areas such as manufacturing, construction and retail gained skilled and knowledgeable staff. Small businesses also benefited from good support from specialist training providers, helping to keep them up to date with changes in legislation or business practice. Twenty-two of the 30 providers visited also helped employers to get public funding for training.

The most effective training providers fostered good relationships with business, had expert knowledge of industry sectors, and matched their training programmes to the needs and demands of employers. Education and training providers also benefited from involvement with employers, with their courses and training materials making good use of advice on current industry practice.

Her Majesty's Chief Inspector, Christine Gilbert said:

'Employers, providers and employees all benefit from employer involvement in work-related training. Where employers and providers develop good relationships, learners, trainees and staff are able to develop the skills and confidence to reach their potential and help employers compete more effectively in the marketplace.'

'This report identifies the features of good practice and highlights practical examples of good or outstanding provision. I hope others will learn from by these examples.'

In all the providers surveyed, learners were able to gain good technical skills and knowledge. Participants in employability and Workstep programmes, and in work-based learning such as work-placements and apprenticeships, benefited from the involvement of employers as they gained a better understanding of the job skills needed and work standards required. These initiatives brought real results, helping participants to develop skills and gain jobs.

In one example, Nissan worked very closely with Gateshead College and JobCentre Plus to design a programme to develop the skills of unemployed people, providing a mix of manufacturing, literacy and numeracy skills. The programme recruited several hundred participants and was very successful. For example, 77 per cent of the participants on one course gained employment with Nissan or with linked companies.

Even in the good and outstanding examples, almost all of the involvement of employers was at the instigation of providers. In the best examples, however, providers worked hard to involve employers and to tailor training provision to their needs. For example, Newham College played a key role in supporting a regeneration scheme, working with the local council, businesses and other groups to encourage local entrepreneurship and develop flexible learning options for local residents.

Employers rarely took the initiative to make or maintain contact with providers or to influence provision. The report recommends that employers take more responsibility for engaging with providers and shape provision to meet their own needs.

Notes for Editors

1. The report will be available on the Ofsted website

2. For comment from Gateshead College, please contact Nadine Hudspeth on 0191 490 2456

3. Between September 2009 and April 2010, inspectors visited 30 providers of work-related education and training that had been judged to be good or outstanding at their previous inspection and with key strengths in involving employers in planning, delivering or reviewing provision.

4. The survey included provision funded by the Learning and Skills Council for full-time and part-time education and training, typically at colleges, work-based learning at colleges, and independent training providers and employers. The survey also included provision funded by the Department for Work and Pensions (Jobcentre Plus), for unemployed people and to enable disabled people to enter or remain in employment (Workstep), at colleges and with private providers. Provision in all the main sector subject areas was sampled and accounted for approximately 9,800 learners. The sample of provision visited did not include cost-recovery provision funded by employers.

5. The Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) regulates and inspects to achieve excellence in the care of children and young people, and in education and skills for learners of all ages. It regulates and inspects childcare and children's social care, and inspects the Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service (Cafcass), schools, colleges, initial teacher training, work-based learning and skills training, adult and community learning, and education and training in prisons and other secure establishments. It assesses council children’s services, and inspects services for looked after children, safeguarding and child protection.

6. Media can contact the Ofsted Press Office through 020 7421 5866 or via Ofsted's enquiry line 0300 1231231 between 8.30am - 6.30pm Monday - Friday. Out of these hours, during evenings and weekends, the duty press officer can be reached on 07919 057359. Alternatively, please email