We understand the context in which universities work with employers, and we have collated some useful guidance for universities that wish to apply for the Training Quality Standard.
First thing’s first
The approach to writing the application
The content of the application
Preparing for the verification visit
First thing’s first
- Do you have a strategy for employer engagement and is it implemented across the institution? In a lot of universities this is a fairly new development as a strategic concern, but in the Training Quality Standard assessment all things flow from the strategy, so it’s important that it’s robust
- Ask yourself if you have the systems and processes in place and, importantly, about the extent to which they are deployed across the institution. Are all faculties responsive to the needs of employers?
- Remember that the Standard is concerned with the manner in which you understand the employer’s needs and measure the impact of your training solutions on the employer, rather than just the learner
- Use the readiness tool here. This online tool will help you to understand whether your institution is ready to approach assessment against the Training Quality Standard.
Writing the Application
- It is likely that someone in your central employer engagement department, where one exists, will be best-placed to act as lead author for the application document. This is advisable as they are likely to have an overview of employer provision across the institution.
- Whoever you appoint as the lead in writing your Application should attend the Applicant Training Course and read the Applicant Guide to ensure that they have a firm understanding of the Assessment Framework and process. Because it is likely that more people will need to be involved in a university’s application, you may want to consider sending more people on the course
- You might want to begin by mapping the employer journey through your institution, if you have not done so already. It is likely that this will be more complicated in a university than in other training providers
- Think about who you need to speak to when you are writing the application document. The mapping exercise above will help you identify these people. Universities are large and complex institutions and employer provision is likely to be dispersed across faculties. It is likely that you will need a contribution from the following:
- senior management e.g. the Pro-Vice-Chancellor with responsibility for employer engagement;
- someone within the Central Employer Engagement Unit e.g. a Quality Manager; and,
- people from within the faculties themselves e.g. faculty-based Business Development Managers and tutors.
- Write what you do now, not what you plan to do. Although it is important to demonstrate that you are reviewing your processes and using the learning to continuously improve (A.6), the Assessors want to know your current processes and will test the deployment of these
- Circulate drafts of the Application to other members of the training function; this will ensure that nothing gets left out.
The content of the Application
- Write the Strategy (A.0) first. You will find that you will refer back to your Strategy throughout the Application, so it’s useful to have this complete first
- Your Approaches (Indicators within A.1, A.2, A.3, A.4, A.6, B.1 and B.2) should support your Strategy: the Strategy should provide a rationale for the processes you deploy
- Remember to make linkages throughout the Application. The following are particularly important:
- A.0 – A.5.0: this linkage looks at what you want to achieve (A.0) and then asks you to show, through data, if you achieved it (A.5.0)
- A.2.2 – A.2.4 – A.4.1 – A.5.2: this is the spine of the Training Quality Standard. You start off with understanding what impact the employer wants (A.2.2), identify and agree a solution (A.2.4), check how you’re doing and address any unmet business needs (A.4.1), and then ask about business impact when talking to your employers (A.5.2).
- When writing the Results Indicators (those within A.5 and B.3) remember to consider that they are concerned with:
- Scope: how well does what you’ve collected address what you wanted to achieve in your Strategy?
- Trends: a minimum of two years (at least three data points) can be considered a trend
- Targets: are you setting SMART targets; are you meeting these?
- Comparisons: Who are you comparing yourself with – how do you rate?
- All providers find the results indicators difficult. Why not start with your submissions to the Higher Education-Business and Community Interaction Survey to demonstrate the results you have achieved (A.5.0)? For A.5.2 you need to demonstrate the impact of your training solutions on the employer – do you collect this information?
- On the Verification Visit the Assessors are looking to test deployment. In a university it is likely that they will want to see the central employer engagement department, as well as the delivery functions out in the faculties.
- Ensure that any evidence referenced in your application can be easily accessed on the visit.
- Ensure that key members of staff are available for the Verification Visit. Prior to the visit, the Assessors will provide you with an agenda informing you of the key people they want to see on the day. It is likely that they will want to speak to senior management, members of the central employer engagement team, and members of the delivery team in the faculties.
- Remember that no new evidence be considered at the Verification Visit.