Recently, government directives have highlighted once again graduate
employability as a key priority for business and emphasised the importance of opportunities
for students to enhance their work-related skills. Work-based learning has been
developing in UK higher education since the early 1990s. Many university
programmes already use workplace problems as a learning resource, involving
students in typical work-based practices such as action learning projects and
individually negotiated learning agreements or contracts. Additionally, the
blurring of the boundaries between learning gained in the HEIs and elsewhere
has gained a foothold over the years in the practice of assessing prior
experiential learning and in accrediting in-company training schemes.This SEDA Special examines a range of issues surrounding work-based
learning. In particular, it looks at contemporary notions such as ‘employer
engagement’ and ‘employer responsive provision’ and re-evaluates them in the
light of a pedagogically-based perspective which is driven by learner-managed
learning, with the outcomes of that learning negotiated between the learner,
the employer and the academy. The Special also re-examines the on-going debate
about the nature and creation of ‘legitimate knowledge’ and provides an
overview of some practical aspects of the delivery of negotiated work-based
learning and its assessment.

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Mike Laycock


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