The NFER blog

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Time for reform of the apprenticeship levy?

By Maire Williams and Jens Van den Brande

The role of apprenticeships in improving the lives of young learners is high on the government’s agenda and in the wider policy world. Given this, the apprenticeship levy has received much attention and criticism since its inception. In fact, the Department for Education (DfE) is already having to handle calls for its reform. A year on from the levy being introduced, we delved into the latest statistics on apprenticeship starts from the DfE to see what kind of impact the policy is having.  Continue reading


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Vocational studies and T-Levels: what will be different this time around?

By Claudia Sumner

As the issue of skills rises up the educational agenda and the number of 18-year-olds going to university falls, the Government is driving through one of the biggest shake-ups in the English qualifications system for years. The introduction of new ‘T levels’ is designed to help tackle Britain’s productivity challenge and to raise the profile of technical education. They will also replace the plethora of vocational qualifications currently on offer in each technical area with just one recognisable qualification type.  Continue reading


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Life as an NFER apprentice

By Harminder Hundal

In 2015/16, 509, 400 people started apprenticeships in England and I was one of them! In May 2016 I began my journey as an apprentice with NFER, and looking back it was the best step I could have taken for my career.

To embark on my journey as an apprentice I abandoned my degree in Diagnostic Radiography. I was advised by close family and friends that I was academically capable and by leaving my degree unfinished I would be jeopardising my career. According to this study, only one-quarter of parents judge vocational education to be worthwhile.

When I joined NFER I didn’t know what I wanted to do as a career. Several roles were explained to me and I was fortunate enough to have a choice to work in whichever departments I was most interested in. So far, I have experienced three different job roles, each for three months. Each role has taught me invaluable skills; as a HR administrator I enhanced my basic office skills, as a project-coordinator, I learnt adaptability and working in finance has helped me believe in myself. Personally I consider self-confidence as priceless, once gained obviously!

Working as an apprentice has enhanced my organisation and time management skills, through working and studying at the same time. I have had to adapt and transfer my skill set for use in different areas of the business. During my journey I have also had to learn to work well under pressure, working between two departments.

I have had a real insight into this world of work; I have experienced different roles and learnt what careers they lead to. I work alongside people who support my journey, talk about theirs and give me every opportunity to learn every day. I have been given positive direction. It is vital that we as a society acknowledge the value of apprenticeships.

NFER’s aim is for all young people to make a successful transition from education to employment. As a part of this aim they are interested in changing attitudes towards vocational education, and they are putting their money where their mouth is! They seem truly interested in creating the most beneficial stepping stones for a young person’s career – in my career. As I come to the end of my journey with NFER I have found my lost love for numbers and I am hoping to begin my career in Finance in the next couple of months.

 

 


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The future of technical and professional education: joining up the dots

By Tami McCrone

The Learning and Skills Research Network (LSRN) workshop held last week on the future of technical and professional education was as current, relevant and thought-provoking as ever. Continue reading


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Could it be that disengagement leads to poor skills?

By Tami McCrone

Last Thursday I attended two events in London: a Demos seminar reporting on ways to re-engage disengaged young people pre-16 years old, and an OECD seminar ‘Building skills for all – a review of England’ which offered policy insights from the survey of adult skills.
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Parents are in the dark about careers enlightenment for their children

By Tami McCrone

What did your child do at school today? An age old question that any parent will tell you is difficult to get an answer to at the best of times. In my house, I might achieve a grunt of ‘maths’ from my son, and perhaps a bit more of a detailed explanation of the latest graphics project from my daughter. But I don’t think any of my children ever came home and told me ‘we did careers education today mum and I’m interested in finding out more about working in business because that’s where my skills and interests lie!’
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Photocopying and making tea: How important is work experience?

By Anneka Dawson

What do stacking bookshelves for a bookshop and doing photocopying for an insurance company have in common? They were activities I completed for work experience weeks while I was at school that did very little to prepare me for the world of work.

The coalition government made the decision to end compulsory work experience in 2012, a decision which some are challenging. The British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) workforce survey found that 76 per cent of 2,885 companies felt that a lack of work experience was one of the main reasons that young people were not ready for the workplace. This has led the BCC to call for a return to compulsory work experience. But are schools still using work experience placements, and how useful is work experience anyway? Continue reading