HE@Work Research Suggests that UK Employees are not Achieving their Full Potential

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Almost three quarters of British workers don't believe they reached their full potential whilst in full-time education, according to new research. More than three-quarters wish they had achieved more and two-thirds would turn back the clock if they could.

The survey showed that these feelings of under-achievement are also evident in the workplace, with more than 72 per cent of employees believing they haven't yet reached their full potential at work. Encouragingly, employers have the chance to address this - given the fact that 80 per cent of those surveyed would actively welcome opportunities to develop professionally at work.

These findings were revealed following a study into attitudes towards education, qualifications and achievement by OnePoll on behalf of workplace learning consultancy, HE@Work. The research involved 4,726 UK employees working for medium to large organisations across a wide range of industry sectors.

The results of the HE@Work study come as the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) calls for an increase in the proportion of the population educated to level 4 and above to 40 per cent by 2020.

The Higher Education at Work (2008) report acknowledges that increasing places at universities is not enough to achieve this aim - particularly as three-quarters of the 2020 workforce have already completed their full-time education and are currently in employment.

The report asks the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to develop proposals for accrediting higher-level training delivered through the workplace.

John Denham, Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, recently reiterated the need to widen access to higher education to incorporate people already in work. Speaking at the University of Southampton in May 2008, he said:

"DIUS research found that four million people are considering - or willing to consider - participating in higher education. These are people who are likely to be already in work; they may have family commitments and perhaps missed out on the opportunity to go to university the first time around. There may be others who now consider, quite wrongly, that their time has passed."

The HE@Work survey findings reinforce the DIUS research. The study found that employees already educated to degree level were the most keen to develop further (87 per cent), whilst 67 per cent of people with no qualifications at all would also welcome the opportunity to develop professionally.

As a result, HE@Work is currently establishing relationships between employers and universities to unlock this latent talent. Supported by the Edge Foundation and the University Vocational Awards Council (UVAC), HE@Work is an independent not-for-profit organization which aims to help businesses turn their in-house employee development programmes into recognised higher education awards.

"The HE@Work team has an in-depth understanding of higher-level learning coupled with direct experience of employers' needs and the issues they face in relation to workforce development," said Professor Joy Carter, chair of the University Vocational Awards Council and vice chancellor at the University of Winchester. "This makes the organization well placed to develop practical, workable solutions which will benefit individuals, businesses and the UK economy as a whole."

Andy Powell, chief executive of the Edge Foundation, added:

"The importance of workplace learning has been overlooked for too long. Businesses contain a wealth of knowledge and expertise and there is no reason why the workplace cannot become the preferred location for post-graduate achievement. Establishing organisations as validated locations of higher-level learning would reinforce the brand names of the businesses concerned and help to make them employers of choice - a critical differentiation in the war for talent."

John Mumford, former VP of BP (UK) and executive chair of HE@Work concurred, he said:

"The DIUS report identifies the need for higher level skills in order for UK plc to remain competitive. Our own research indicates that employees are looking for opportunities to develop professionally through education and training in the workplace. There is a clear call to action here."

Professor Simon Roodhouse, technical director at HE@Work and co-author of the book 'Employers, Skills and Higher Education', published by Kingsham Press, concluded:

"We look forward to working with employers to help increase productivity and improve retention by maximising the untapped potential within their workforces."

A PowerPoint presentation about HE@Work incorporating the key findings of the research is available immediately via the HE@Work website at http://www.h-e-atwork.com Interested parties can also register to receive a management summary of the full survey findings which will be available in due course.

Notes to editors

For additional data and information or to request interviews with key HE@Work, Edge and UVAC personnel please contact Louise Jaggs: T: 01242 257770 M: 07712 011246 E: louise@textontap.com

Research methodology: HE@Work commissioned OnePoll to undertake this study - which took place online over a five-week period during the Spring of 2008. All 4,726 respondents work in the private sector for medium to large organisations (typically employing in excess of 2,000 people).

About HE@Work - http://www.h-e-atwork.com
HE@Work is an independent not-for-profit organization supported by the Edge Foundation and the University Vocational Awards Council (UVAC). Its remit is to support UK businesses in their drive for improved performance by helping them develop their workforces. HE@Work consultants work closely with organisations to understand business need and recommend strategies for the design and delivery of higher-level training programmes.

Issued on behalf of HE@Work by Louise Jaggs, TextOnTap
+44 (0)1242 257770 +44 (0)7712 011246 louise @ textontap.com


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