About Skillfasts Embedding Project Models

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					About Skillfast’s Embedding Project Models

Case Study: Skillfast-UK The Challenge
“…Our aim was to demonstrate how National Occupational Standards can be seen from a Skills for Life perspective. We wanted to make more explicit the levels of literacy and numeracy needed to achieve workplace competency in these Standards. We wanted to challenge some of the assumptions still made, especially about literacy abilities…”

The sector footprint:

Skillfast-UK is the Sector Skills Council for apparel, footwear, textiles and related businesses. By its very nature, the apparel, footwear and textile sector is very diverse and constantly changing in response to the demands of the global marketplace. The sector splits into three broad areas: manufacturing, trading and services. The sector as a whole is dominated by small and medium sized employers with more than 80 percent of establishments having 10 employees or less. There is a well-established need to improve skill levels in this sector as a means of improving competitiveness due to the industry changing from high volume, low margin manufacturing to increased value, higher margin through diversification into ever more specialist markets. Key challenges facing the sector include the need to attract young people into the industry and to upskill those already employed. Our sector coverage includes: • • • • • • • • Fellmongery and fur production Manufacture of textiles and textile products Manufacture of wearing apparel Fur dressing and dyeing Manufacture of leather and leather products Manufacture of man-made fibres Orthopaedic and medical textile products Floor and wall coverings, including carpet fitting 01

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Embedding Project Models

• • • • •

Wholesale of textiles, clothing and footwear Repair of personal and household goods Washing and dry-cleaning of textile and fur products Management activities of holding companies, and Designers, as relevant to the sector.

Meeting the Challenge
As a contributor to the Standard Setting Body part of the Embedding Skills for Life in Vocational Qualifications Project, we explored the relationship between the standards writing and implementation process looking to create models that help illustrate the relationship between this aspect of the SSC’s work and Skills for Life. Embedding Skills for Life into National Occupational Standards was a commitment already taken by Skillfast-UK in the development and reformatting of the NOS for the sector. It was very timely that Skillfast-UK was given the opportunity to take part in this project. Our intention now was to ensure that working, practical literacy and numeracy skills needed in specific National Occupational Standards were more explicitly stated, rather than appearing at a level of implicit assumption.

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LDC3 had already been approved by UKCG, and was developed prior to the start of this initiative. At Level 2, this unit is for those who prepare items and make up loads for cleaning. Employers were widely canvassed on the layout of the NOS units, and were very supportive. Comments were made that the layout of the NOS was user-friendly and easily applied in the workplace. The job role routinely involves: • • • • • • Handling items with care and removing those which are unsuitable for the cleaning process Checking for foreign objects and dealing with them according to correct procedures Sorting items according to the appropriate classifications Making up loads of the correct weight Labeling loads clearly Prioritising loads and storing them carefully.

Our challenge was to make explicit within this framework the significance of numeracy and literacy Skills for Life.

The Models
Over the course of the project, two models emerged: 1. THE SKILLSFAST-UK STANDARDS SUPPORT MODEL 2. THE SKILLSFAST-UK SKILLS FOR LIFE AUDIT MODEL 1. THE SKILLSFAST-UK STANDARDS SUPPORT MODEL The first model illustrates the types of Skills for Life challenges that can be found in the workplace and that need to be met if some of the competencies in National Occupational Standards (NOS) are to be demonstrated. We have provided actual examples of how, and where, these skills are used and needed. The aim is to show that there needs to be space in any training programme to audit a trainee’s literacy and numeracy skills, and then deliver a suitable learning plan to help achieve the Skills for Life they will need if they are to perform competently at the required NOS level.

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Embedding Project Models

We wanted the nature of this model to be fully interactive in order to allow the user to experience and discover the extent to which literacy and numeracy learning and ability could be over-assumed in NOS. The model illustrates the extent to which literacy and numeracy are essential in NOS and highlights the extent to which the learning and development needs associated with literacy and numeracy can often be overlooked. We also developed this model to show bodies responsible for writing National Occupational Standards how it is possible to embed Skills for Life into the standards writing process and one way to illustrate the way that Skills for Life is an integral part of the learning and skills development associated with workplace competencies. It is anticipated that the model will be of use to Awarding Bodies developing qualifications built around these ‘enriched’ standards, showing them the type of literacy and numeracy knowledge, skills and understanding that also needs to be developed alongside the occupational learning and skills development.

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This purpose of our model is two-fold: • to show how National Occupational Standards (NOS) can be looked at through a Skills for Life lens, revealing the extent of the Skills for Life activity that goes on behind the explicit NOS competencies • to draw out, and make more explicit and transparent, the types and levels of literacy and numeracy knowledge, skills and understanding that must be developed, or need to be in place, if the workplace competencies in the NOS are to be properly demonstrated and competence actually achieved. The model was partly developed to illustrate to standards writers and qualifications developers that literacy and numeracy are already embedded within the NOS in ways that often conceal their presence. The NOS used in this model already attached importance to Skills for Life skills, competencies and attributes housing them within a Workplace Skills section. This model complements this approach by also showing how several different Skills for Life competencies underpin a lot of the workplace competencies, showing how they are applied using actual workplace examples. The Standards Support model looks at Skillfast-UK’s HS1 Health, Safety and Security at work Level 2 standards; this standard is part of the Bespoke Cutting and Tailoring & Manufacturing Sewn Products suite of standards. The work-based evidence and source material used to illustrate the presence of literacy and numeracy skills comes from BMB Ltd, and we would like to extend our sincere thanks to this organisation for their co-operation in helping us demonstrate this point. We were extremely fortunate in finding an employer as willing and enthusiastic as BMB Ltd. The organisation gave us access to their corporate literature and to one of their manufacturing plants, which meant we were able to collect workplace evidence showing how literacy and numeracy skills were vitally important if these Health and Safety competences were to be achieved as eventual NVQ units. The Skillfast-UK Standards Support model started by exploring the existing, but implicit, assumptions about literacy and numeracy ability in the NOS. Once we were sure we had found the main assumptions about literacy and numeracy content being made, we started to explore how we could show the presence and need for these skills in the workplace more explicitly. Having found the workplace resources, the challenge then became one of presentation. As a bonus feature, we added the option to view some key resources as if you were a learner operating with lower level literacy skills. We felt this might be a powerful reminder of some of the assumptions we make about other people’s literacy abilities (particularly reading). www.skillfast-uk.org 05

Embedding Project Models

This particular version is freely available and is also available on the project website.

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2. THE SKILLSFAST-UK SKILLS FOR LIFE AUDIT MODEL The second model provides a useful, straightforward way of identifying the types of opportunities that allow trainees to develop and apply Skills for Life competencies when taking qualifications based on these standards. This model is intended for Awarding Bodies and training providers, but can also be used in the workplace and has the potential to be developed for Human Resource purposes. The model attempts to create a mechanism, or tool, that people interpreting the standards can apply to help find the ‘hidden’ Skills for Life competencies implicit in the standards or to establish what Skills for Life assumptions are being made. It also introduces a useful visual representation of how you can identify Skills for Life (in this case literacy) opportunities within NOS. The model contains a set of generic Skills for Life literacy questions that can be directed at any set of standards, but for the purpose of the project have been directed at Skillfast-UK’s LDC8 Press and Finish Items following Laundry. The model relates occupational competencies directly to the types of Skills for Life attributes found in the Key Skills specifications and Adult Core Curriculum. The emphasis here is on learning and skills development and not on how or where to find evidence and so it is unlike most mapping exercises. Instead, the model attempts to nest one set of standards and learning requirements within another. This model adopts a simple and straightforward method. The basic premise involves taking generic questions and applying them to standards, recording where the employee has to speak and listen or read and write. There then needs to be some calibration of the NOS requirements with the content in the Adult Core Curriculum. This may well identify a mismatch in terms of levels of Skills for Life ability present in trainees and the assumed levels underpinning the occupational competencies. This would suggest the need to build and strengthen skills and a need for training. Skills for Life expertise is needed to determine the training needs and to review the Skills for Life content but the model can be used simply as a Skills for Life workplace training or standards checker within any sector or context.

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Embedding Project Models

Transferability
Both products have the potential to be used by other sectors.

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Potential Impact on SKILLFAST-UK
Resources: Should Skillfast-UK wish to further develop the models, then it would need to carefully evaluate this work against the increasing demands from the sector, government, and other agencies. Skillfast-UK is like many other SSCs in that it does not have either the human or financial resources necessary to fulfil all requirements, and must prioritise work. Development: The model used for the H&S unit work focussed on laundry, which is only one small sub-sector. Unless a generic version of this model can be developed, it is likely to prove prohibitively expensive.

Potential Impact on the wider community
Raising awareness: Both models could have significant impact on Skillfast-UK sector, and on other sectors. The BMB model could prove particularly useful in illustrating employee needs to employers. The H&S unit model could prove very helpful to awarding bodies by supporting the implementation of the reformatted NOS. Embedding: It was Skillfast-UK’s intention to raise the profile of Skills for Life, especially as they are applied in the workplace, by developing the NOS in the way we have. If this initiative had the resources to progress, the impact could be considerable.

Conclusion
The work done by all four SSCs in a very short space of time was quite remarkable, and it would be such a waste of momentum to stop at this stage. Each piece of work is unique, yet surprisingly they dovetail into each other, and could provide a remarkable package which could have a significant impact on embedding Skills for Life in the workplace. To find out more about the availability of the resource go to the Embedding Project website www.totallyskilled.org.uk.

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Description: About Skillfasts Embedding Project Models