Work life… with Joe Robinson
Work-based training advocate Joe Robinson, a consultant on our Global Markets team, is passionate about lifelong learning and upskilling on-the-job.
Our global markets team has gone from strength to strength during the past seven years. We started with two of us on the team and two foundation clients. Now a team of 25 people, the Global Markets Division of Skills Consulting Group operates across 30 countries, from the Pacific to Asia and Africa.
When people think of education they’re usually thinking of the teacher in the classroom with the chalk doing the talk. But what we know is that it’s equally possible and often more effective for people to learn in the workplace. Learning on the job means getting practical hands-on experience, whether it’s plumbing or financial services.
Humans have engaged in work-based learning for thousands of years. If you wanted to be a senator in ancient Rome, at 16 or 17 years’ old you have a mentor – an existing senator. You’d follow them about for a year or two, learning directly from watching them in their workplace day to day. If you wanted to go into a trade or craft, then an apprenticeship model was the model that you were going to follow.
My job is to advise other people on how people learn. Sometimes that looks like advising governments on incorporating work-based learning into systems, or how to create an apprenticeship model. Sometimes I’m working with polytechnics and education providers on incorporating our qualifications or programs into their model. At its heart, my role is looking at how workplace learning happens, and how people can use it to improve themselves and their team.
The number one way to make sure new qualifications have the right content is to speak to people. So, you’re designing a plumbing qualification? Then speak to a plumber. My favourite thing about my role is getting to speak to knowledgeable and passionate people, finding out about their world, and then finding out how we can make that both pragmatic and realistic for a learning environment.
Collaboration and quality go hand in hand. As vocational education consultants, we review existing qualifications and create entirely new ones, as well. More than one person needs to decide what goes in them. You need a group of people who can come together to decide what students actually need to learn. You need input from employers, from trainers, from academics, from professional bodies and associations; from regulators, and from the people who are already in those jobs. We put people together in a room and let them discuss what is needed, and reach a consensus that results in best practice.
“Change is the only constant.” That’s been the case since the dawn of time, and nowhere is it more true than in workplaces today, where every day there’s a new challenge arriving. Work-based learning using online, agile tools allows us to address this constant change in an effective, appropriate and timely way.