Rolls-Royce was the setting for commissioners’ third meeting on 7 November 2012. Seeing the apprenticeships academy in action really helped to emphasise the importance for the Commission of focusing ambitiously on skills for the future. Hearing about how Rolls-Royce is contributing to the wider development of UK manufacturing, both in economic and community terms, helped to articulate the central role of higher level skills development in securing future growth.
Commissioners had the opportunity to:
- talk to apprentices and tutors about what makes for excellent higher level vocational provision;
- explore how technology is transforming work and the manufacturing industry’s expectations of vocational teaching and learning;
- consider how approaches to vocational teaching and learning in a ‘Tier 1’ company can be transferred to supply chain businesses;
- understand the added value of Rolls-Royce’s partnership with colleges and group training associations.
The Commission’s approach is to work from practice to theory. Each meeting includes a reflective discussion, in which commissioners spend time learning from the visit identifying some of the key features of excellent vocational teaching and learning and what might be transferable.
Reflections on the visit to Rolls-Royce are still emerging, but commissioners were struck by:
- the clear focus on developing ‘deep knowledge’, and the importance of doing this in the work context;
- the value of ‘sandpits’ - creative spaces for experimentation and innovation away from the front line;
- the ways in which technology is not only transforming work, but speeding the learning process through, for example, the use of 3D printing for pre-production trialling;
- the investment in developing higher level apprentices as the senior leaders of tomorrow, recognising the value of ‘deep knowledge’ right across the business.
A summary of commissioners’ reflective discussions following the Rolls-Royce meeting will soon be published on the Commission website.