Off-the-shelf education

May 11, 2007

Foundation Degree Forward is leading a partnership of Manchester Metropolitan University, the University of the Arts, Tesco and My Knowledge Map to develop a foundation degree for the retail sector.

The qualification, which is being mapped against the appropriate sector skills council foundation degree framework (in this case Skillsmart Retail), will use a combination of e-learning materials, residential delivery and online support to ensure that the programme can be accessed by students in the workplace.

The programme draws on the workplace to structure and inform the development of learning materials. It integrates work-based learning and academic study through work-based projects, assignments and a reflective log and portfolio.

Three themes run through all the modules: business improvement, customer and staff loyalty, and the application of technology in the retail sector.

The pilot programme with Tesco will recruit students in employment with diverse educational backgrounds. The student profile will be a combination of experienced retail professionals and new entrants to the sector. The programme will provide a work-based higher education route for students who would have traditionally progressed to university at 18 or would be unlikely to access higher education because of their work and life commitments.

Clair Peters of Tesco says: "Tesco Stores Limited views the development and trial of a foundation degree in retail as an opportunity for our people to study and learn as they continue to earn a living and develop their career with us.

"The retail foundation degree will become the latest part of the set of Tesco training and development opportunities that are on offer to our people. We want all our staff in stores to have the opportunity to gain an educational qualification while continuing to work for Tesco. This degree course completes another stage in the development of a suite of qualifications, alongside the Retail Apprenticeship Level 2 programme, which started in 2004.

"Our aim over the next five years is that all store employees will be able to enhance their education with Tesco, no matter what their age or level."

To support this development, Foundation Degree Forward is using its methodology for accrediting employer training, the Employment-Based Training Accreditation project, to assess the in-house staff development already undertaken by Tesco. This provision will be mapped against the foundation degree and, where appropriate, be awarded academic credit. In this way, valuable learning will be incorporated into the programme rather than being repeated.

The scope of this development is not focused on one employer. The intention is that this programme will be available to the sector and will establish consistent national provision that employers and learners will recognise as central to their workforce and personnel development strategy.
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