Richard’s doctoral thesis critically evaluates the development and delivery of two flexible learning programmes - BA (Hons) Advertising (WBL) and BA (Hons) Public Relations (WBL). These were developed as part of a HEFCE Catalyst-funded project ‘Towards Higher Apprenticeships’ led by the Sector Skills Council for the creative industries and a consortium of five universities.
Using an interpretive philosophy, the study employed an action research approach, that is, the study is primarily intended to inform practice within a specific social situation, the findings of which may be transferable.
The findings of the research suggest that the active, multi-modal learning opportunities offered by accelerated, work-based learning programmes can facilitate the attainment of planned and emergent outcomes cultivating the creation of capital, building communities of practice and contributing to the productivity that is a key driver in government higher education and skills policy. However, the research suggests that the foundation for such programmes requires: an innovative institution, where teams have existing strong industry links and an employability focus, particularly in industries with a clear skills shortage; a reachable target audience with raised awareness of the benefits of such programmes; and an active Sector Skills Council to raise awareness, particularly amongst small to medium-sized businesses, and to act as an umbrella organisation. Employers engaged in such programmes should be prepared to devote sufficient resources.