National Vocational Qualifications and Workplace Learning: Staff Perspectives in a Social Care Organisation
Kempson, Audrey Ann
The demands upon the social care workforce in the UK are only likely to increase over the next decades. The social care sector is heavily reliant on NVQs and this is regulated through the Care Standards Act (2000). It is thus important that these qualifications appropriately support staff development. The purpose of the research was to explore this in one social care organisation (Homecare) through researching staff perspectives on factors that inhibited or supported learning through NVQs and to examine the Homecare/Centre delivery of NVQs and workplace learning with this in mind. The research is broadly qualitative in design and draws on the principles of narrative research combined with analysis focused on key themes (interpersonal, personal and organisational factors). The research found that an understanding of the key concepts of workplace learning is relevant to the delivery of NVQs and can help these qualifications be implemented successfully as a part of a more holistic approach to teaching, learning and the assessment of competence in the workplace. The research identified that the organisation had a particular approach that strategically integrated assessment both at organisational and practice level. Additionally the research identified areas within the NVQ process, where integrated assessment proved of benefit to practice through professional level development of skills and knowledge, values and reflective learning and confidence. From this eight key elements of an enhanced model of NVQ delivery were identified that constitute the contribution to practice. The contribution to theory lies in linking the literatures of NVQs, competence and workplace learning and the suggestion that previous understanding of NVQs as behaviourist and atomistic is not as important as the approach to assessment adopted by organisations. The research has relevance to any social care organisation but also to wider audiences where NVQs are used as it adds to understanding of workplace learning through a depth of practitioner-researcher understanding of specific qualifications in a specific context.