Between a rock and a hard place: the role of HE and Foundation Degrees in workforce development

Nadia Edmond, Yvonne Hillier, M. Price

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose This paper explores how HE institutions are responding to the workforce remodelling agenda of public services and the emergence of ‘para-professions’ within traditionally low paid / low status employment. Methodology/Approach With reference to recent research, the authors review their experience of Foundation Degrees in Education and explore tensions in managing the competing needs of the varying stakeholders. Findings A model of work-based learning which includes consideration of the following key areas:  Employer engagement  CPD and Professional Bodies – external validation and professional recognition  Progression into HE through the workforce  Pedagogy of WBL Research Implications This article identifies a need for the systematic examination of the issues raised by the implementation of FDs as CPD for employed staff. The assumption that FD provision for employees results in more effective work-based learning is challenged. The importance of FDs in accreditation for a range of occupations in the Children's Workforce also suggests a need for research into the 'professionalisation' of these occupations. Practical Implications The issue of employer engagement is fundamental and we would argue that HE has a crucial role to play but that ensuring employer engagement requires responsiveness on the part of university structures, as well as the capacity to stimulate employer engagement and/or sanction lack of employer engagement at the level of individual programmes. Originality/Value This paper provides information about the new phenomenon of implementation of Foundation Degrees to support workforce development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-181
Number of pages12
JournalEducation and training
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • Foundation Degrees


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