Employer engagement in design and development of skills solutions

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This paper sets out the key lessons from the ‘Qualitative Evaluation of Demand-led Skill Solutions’ in relation to employer investment and engagement in the design and development of skills solutions.

Key findings include:

  • There has been a shift from employer engagement being about asking key employers ‘what do you want?’ to asking them ‘what can you contribute to helping make this idea a success?’; and, not just asking employers ‘will this work?’, but, asking ‘how can we jointly make this work?
  • Employer engagement, relationship management and maintained engagement take more planning, time and resources than even the most cautious delivery partners expect.
  • Working with a core of known employers is to be expected (and pragmatic). It is where the engagement and contribution of these employers is active (rather than passive) that is has most potential to influence the extent to which the solution is ‘fit for purpose’ and its value, and appeal, to employers.
  • More important than the type of employer contribution in financial terms is the nature of support during the project delivery phase and its potential to bring substantial and long-lasting value to the skills solution.
  • The ability to more directly influence the on-going design and development of the skills solution is a key motivating factor for some employers. Approaches to access and use that expertise need to be flexible and efficient.
  • The role and value of (early) market testing with a cross-section of employers cannot be underestimated. There is a need for a credible view of the wider market of employers for any given skills solution (indicating that it could be scalable) and a plan of how reach and generated interest from this wider group of employers. The shape or delivery of the solution, its value and how it is communicated may need to be tailored to different sections of the audience.
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