HM: Hannah McAskill
AL: Anett Loescher
HM: Hello, and welcome to this week's QAA podcast. I'm Hannah McAskill and today I will be talking to Anett Loescher, Operations Manager for EBTA, which stands for Employer Based Training Accreditation. So, Annette, when and how did QAA get involved with EBTA?
AL: Well, EBTA had originally started with Foundation Degree Forward (fdf), and they ran it to promote Foundation Degrees. When Foundation Degree Forward closed down last year, they approached us to ask whether we would be interested in taking over the service, and EBTA transferred to us in October 2011.
HM: Do you mind explaining briefly what the EBTA service is?
AL: If one takes a flippant view, it is a matchmaking service between universities and employers. They quite often have in-house training which serves up-scaling purposes, staff retention, staff motivation. But quite often employees and employers find that an employee might need another qualification to actually progress in a career, or employers quite often think that the qualification that their employee gets out of the in-house training does not adequately reflect what the employee actually can do, so often employers ask, 'we have got a certain kind of training in-house, we would like it to be better recognised to open opportunities for our employees into other education groups', and that is then where the service properly kicks in.
HM: So how does the service and the process work?
AL: Dedicated EBTA consultants go to the employer, have a very thorough look at the training, also the strategies that the employer may have in place for staff development or business development. They then sit down with the employer, produce a very thorough report about the training in question, and make recommendations on how this could be accredited. We then take this report and circulate it amongst the community of EBTA universities, who are experienced in accrediting work-based learning or employer-led learning.
What the universities are requested to do is to come back with a genuine response to this proposal and report, so what we don't want is the off-the-shelf solution: 'we have got a course in literature, there you go, there's your booksellers module'. It is employer-driven and employers basically are the client, so they want a specific kind of accreditation.
We then help the employer to select and then also facilitate an interviewing process between the employer and the university, so the university is in a way the applicant for the employer's business and has to demonstrate that they understand what the employer wants and have to be thorough and also innovative in terms of what they suggest as accreditation solutions.
Once the employer has chosen a university, the core EBTA process comes to an end. We are there if the employer wants us to help them through the accreditation, offer support and advice, and we are also now entering into the internal investment analysis: was it worth the effort and does the employer get what they thought they would get through the accreditation?
HM: So how many members, or partners, are involved in this process?
AL: We have got a small pool of consultants who help us come up with the recommendations and the reports, and currently our community of practising universities stands at 37, but we are always keen to get new members to also expand beyond England into Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Whilst at fdf, EBTA worked with Jewson in construction; Booth, for instance, for retail; with the Fire and Rescue service; with Murco Petroleum - so quite diverse in terms of the subjects. And we ourselves have recently worked with the Royal School for Military Engineering and partnered them with Southampton Solent, and in a very recent one was Waterstones Booksellers with Derby.
HM: Right, so some big names in there. Recently EBTA was at the CIPD [Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development] conference; how did that go?
AL: We were trying to promote EBTA and put it amongst employers, and a good way of doing so is to go to events like exhibitions, like the CIPD where lots of human resources professionals eke out what is new in the staff development market.
HM: And was there a lot of interest?
AL: It was quite good interest that we received, across all sectors - public, private, all kinds of industries and trades and businesses. So quite a good experience; a new one as well for EBTA.
HM: Fantastic. And finally, where can we go to find out more information?
AL: You can go to the QAA website, which takes you through to the EBTA website, or people can email us to our EBTA inbox and ask us what we do, whether we would come for a scoping visit and talk to them.
HM: Brilliant. Well, thank you very much for talking to me today Anette, and thank you for listening to this week's QAA podcast.