Semta's Chief Executive Ann Watson shares her views on the latest news, policy, issues and events of interest to the engineering and advanced manufacturing sector. 


Wednesday, 25 May 2016 00:00

Transforming life chances through Vocational Education and Training

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Guest Blog by Alison Fuller, University College London Institute of Education and Member of the Semta Board

Alison-fuller-board-memberAs a very recent addition to the Semta board, I don’t pretend to know everything about the organisation, but my 25 years of researching and analysing the Vocational Education and Training (VET) landscape mean I’m well placed to understand what Semta is trying to achieve. I’m pleased to say that I think it’s on the right track. Engineering and advanced manufacturing is leading the way when it comes to VET and other sectors could learn much from its achievements. 

Before I say too much more about Semta’s work, I’d like to tell you a bit more about my own. I currently work for University College London, where I have two distinct roles. Firstly, I’m Pro-Director of Research and Development at UCL Institute of Education. This involves creating a great environment for colleagues to undertake research, collaborating with others to develop research strategy, evaluating research performance, liaising with our funding bodies and stakeholders, and ensuring that our research findings are effectively disseminated. My second role is Professor of Vocational Education and Work, through which I undertake research into education – work transitions, apprenticeship and workplace learning – which feeds into public policy and influences employment and VET practice.

This practical application of my research work is absolutely vital. To give an example, working with my UCL colleague Lorna Unwin, I developed the Expansive Restrictive Framework – an analytical tool to help create high quality apprenticeships. The National Apprenticeship Service commissioned us to develop a practical guide based on the framework, which is actively used by employers and providers.

I also have a number of extra-curricular roles. I have acted as an independent adviser to the Education and Training Foundation's VET expert panel. I’m a member of the All Party Parliamentary Skills Commission and was recently consulted by BIS on the selection of the new employer-led National Colleges, including in advanced manufacturing, digital and wind energy.

I do all this because I’m passionate about getting the quality of VET right. When done well, I’ve seen the transformational effect it can have on young people and adults, and the hugely positive impact on the employers that embrace it. 

The good news is that, throughout my years of research, I can genuinely say that the engineering and advanced manufacturing sector is leading the field in this area. Apprenticeships have been at the heart of its training model long before any government initiatives and, as such, are substantial, quality programmes that develop the new skills required for developing relevant occupational expertise.

In a country with a laissez-faire approach to VET, I think Semta is doing a fantastic job at championing high quality training in the sector, helping to develop a talent pool that the whole sector can benefit from.

I would like to see Semta continue to represent the collective voice of the industry, keeping high standards and quality at its core. I’m also interested to see how Semta’s relationship with Higher Education might develop, for example in relation to the Degree Apprenticeship agenda, and also how it might contribute to the international debate about the relationship between skills and productivity. Exciting times ahead.

In terms of what I bring to Semta – as an independent academic, I don’t have to toe the line. I base my thinking on sound evidence. This attitude, together with my 25 years of VET experience and expertise, is what I’m bringing to the Semta board.


Read 1925 times Last modified on Wednesday, 25 May 2016 15:49