Research focuses on informal learning within apprenticeships

Silvia Pirrioni, a PhD student at Nottingham Business School, part of Nottingham Trent University, is to research the role of Human Resource Management in apprenticeships and informal learning.

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Nottingham Trent University

Silvia Pirrioni, a PhD student at Nottingham Business School, part of Nottingham Trent University, is to research the role of Human Resource Management (HRM) in apprenticeships and informal learning.

A large number of apprenticeship schemes have been developed in the UK in the past twenty years. From construction and engineering to the media and digital industries. These schemes provide apprentices of all ages not only with employment and a future career, but also with the formal recognition of an NVQ qualification.

Research has presented extensive evidence that employers recruiting an apprentice enjoy many advantages, such as 'growing their own' talent, developing their intellectual capital and skills in a resource-based view, and sustaining staff morale and commitment, alongside improving social mobility and diversity. All of such factors are reflected in positive results in productivity levels and innovation.

Apprenticeships are certainly growing in popularity, with 510,000 new apprentices in 2012-13, a 200% increase on the number registered ten years earlier. This expansion has been made possible also through the financial support given by the UK Government, which increased the allocated budget from £174 million in 2012-13 to an estimated £770 million in 2014-15. This at a time when other important initiatives have seen their funding dramatically reduced.

The funding increase shows recognition of the importance of apprenticeships as a form of education and learning in employment. It has been provided in tandem with a set of new principles based on the Dough Richard 2012 report. The principles are aimed at making apprenticeships both more rigorous and responsive to the needs of employers. They also provide apprentices with the competencies, knowledge, and skills required for their immediate and future careers, in addition to formal qualifications. The themes highlighted by these principles require the close involvement of the HRM function of the organisation so that it provides the necessary HR systems and organisational culture to support the employment and the learning dimensions of these apprenticeships.

In this context, this research will focus on the informal learning that takes place within the apprenticeships' 'on-the-job' development model, and its relationship to performance. It is expected that a strong HRM function would embed the apprenticeship scheme in the organisation. This enhances learning and performance, creating a strong learning climate and supporting the psychological contract at the heart of the relationship between apprentice and employer.

Data will be collected on: the apprentices' experiences of learning; their perceptions of HRM, and supervisors' feedback on the progress of their apprentices, in order to establish any positive or negative relations among these factors. The research will focus on the informal learning emerging from the experiences and perceptions of those most closely involved in the process.

Silvia Pirrioni will work with supervisors Professor Helen Shipton and Dr Néstor Valero-Silva, from Nottingham Business School. The research has been made possible with the generous support awarded by the Nottingham Trent University's Vice-Chancellor PhD Scholarship Scheme.

Research focuses on informal learning within apprenticeships

Published on 3 November 2014
  • Category: Research; Nottingham Business School

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