Last week I was at UVAC 2009 staged in York. I was there both to enjoy the conference (which I did) and to present a paper.

The quality of the sessions was without doubt excellent, they were informative and thought provoking.

Rather than post extensive notes of each session I have pinned down the 5 key things that I take away from UVAC.

  1. Nationally we are learning rapidly about employer engagement; case studies at the conference showed that great strides are being made but many initiatives are still high in development resource and low on student numbers.  This would seem to be an essential preparatory stage to help us create appropriate provision (flanked by appropriate systems) to meet the perceived future demand.
  2. HE needs to reflect and then to take action on the question ‘ why does HE only provide 8% of CPD?’ Some of the answers we know, others we need to find. 
  3. Work-based learning needs to be joined up. Whether its legislation driven or bite-sized chunks of learning, the value of the HE credit is much greater when a framework exists. We need to work creatively to sew together work-based learning, but doing this in pockets may be unsustainable. This is an institutional challenge. 
  4. Concepts such as distance learning, e-learning, inquiry based and flexible learning are understood by  groups of people in HEI. These elements are likely to form a backbone of EE activity. A key challenge to enable employer engagement to thrive will be to integrate these elements in to the consciousness of all practitioners.
  5. Future trends need to be widely understood for a full appreciation of employer engagement. The notion of skills gaps, demographic change and varying current supply and demand in different areas of the economy, need to be understood to justify the decision to engage in particular ways. HEI’s need to squarely look beyond the here and now.

And our presentation ….

Liz (Warr) and I presented a case study of REEDNet one year in. It was useful to prepare this as it allowed us to critically take stock of the progress that we have made.  Essentially we outlined the rationale for REEDNet and explained the structures which had been built to facilitate both employer engagement and also joint working between the partner HEI’s, colleges and private providers. It was clear from the session that the challenges remaining to REEDNet are shared by other projects. Here is the Powerpoint from the session and the paper will follow.

View more presentations from Lydia Arnold.