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United Kingdom

More about Silvia

Thesis Title: Apprenticeships and Informal Learning: the role of HRM

I am a PhD student in the Nottingham Business School undertaking research for my thesis entitled Apprenticeships and Informal Learning: the role of HRM. A large number of apprenticeship schemes have been developed in the UK over the past 20 years, covering a variety of sectors and industries, including: construction and engineering, business and finance, retail, travel and tourism, health care and beauty, the media and digital industries. The schemes provide apprentices of all ages not only with employment and a future career, but also with the formal recognition of a NVQ.

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
  • sustaining staff morale and commitment
  • improving social mobility and diversity, along with positive results in productivity levels and innovation.

The recent popularity of apprenticeships was confirmed by the 510,000 new apprentices joining these schemes in 2012/13, representing a 200% increase over the last ten years. This expansion has been financially supported by the UK Government, which recognises the importance of apprenticeships as a form of education and learning in employment.

The study takes place at a time of Government reform, based on the Richard 2012 review, aiming at making apprenticeships more rigorous and responsive to the needs of employers and at providing apprentices with the competencies, knowledge, and skills required for their immediate and future careers, in addition to formal qualifications. The themes highlighted in the reform 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 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 apprentices' progress, in order to establish any positive or negative relations among these factors, and provide research-based evidence focusing on the informal learning emerging from the experiences and perceptions of those most closely involved in the process.

The research has been made possible with the support of the Nottingham Trent University's Vice-Chancellor PhD Scholarship Scheme.

Director of Studies

Helen Shipton

Research groups / centres and projects

Work and employment Research Group

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