Who got that job?

June 22, 2007

Sandra Rowan
Access and progression co-­ordinator, North-East Higher Skill Network, Teesside University
Job advertised in
The Times Higher , September 22, 2006

If higher education institutes intend to sustain their current level of activity and remain in business, they will increasingly have to adapt to the reality that traditional university starters fresh from school are a diminishing resource.

Sandra Rowan, access and progression co-ordinator and deputy director of the North East Higher Skills Network, estimates that for the projected workforce in 2020, 70 per cent have already left school. In the North East of England it is 80 per cent. “Our network is a partnership of 23 academic institutions in the North East and one of 30 lifelong learning networks in the UK,” Ms Rowan said.

“Our goal is to improve access to higher education for vocational learners, people who are employed but are looking to develop high-level skills, perhaps for a particular profession such as nursing or engineering.”

The Skills Network is engaging with employers to enable the workforce to gain new skills and working with academic institutes to develop ways in which different types of learning can be accredited, carry weight and be formally recognised.

“We are working to make learning pathways more explicit and networked, particularly for people who don’t have traditional qualifications,” Ms Rowan said.

“If you left school at 16, how do you find out in the workplace what things you might study at university level?”

An occupational therapist by training, Ms Rowan says she has definitely not given up her profession.
“We are trained to help people make informed choices in a different sphere and to bring choices into their lives. My transferable skills are definitely being used,” she said.

Martyn Bull

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