HE@Work: three year longitudinal employee learning attitudes survey of large private businesses, 2008‐2010

Simon Roodhouse (Professor and consultant for HE@Work and the Institute for Work Based Learning, Middlesex University. He is based in Skipton, UK)
John Mumford (Chair of HE@Work and is based in Cobham, UK)

Industrial and Commercial Training

ISSN: 0019-7858

Publication date: 7 September 2010



This paper aims to bring together three years of surveying large business employer attitudes to higher‐level training and development.


A survey instrument used was a self‐completed web based questionnaire with a common core of questions to all three surveys.


Successive UK governments continue to invest heavily in the formal education system to give individuals the chance to realize their potential, for the social and economic good. In the UK, while 42 percent of 18‐30 year olds participate in higher education, there is little interest for others, particularly those in work. The rationale takes these observations further by pointing out that the established further and higher education system has been highly successful in developing and delivering entry to work programs for many years; that is, qualifying people for work at higher levels. Similarly, business continues to provide targeted training for its employees as it has always done. The rationale argues that it is equally important to recognize that universities have a stake in workforce development, the labor market, and, employer demand engaging in work‐based learning. However, there is no common language as yet between universities and employers; and there are national structural faults in the system for example splitting further and higher education and allowing different structural arrangements for training and higher education. Consequently it is no surprise that work‐based learning as “the new kid on the curriculum and qualification block” in higher education is less well developed than perhaps it should be.

Practical implications

The implications for higher education and government drawn from three years of large business surveys is employees continue to see employers and professional bodies as much more credible delivers of work‐based learning than higher or further education institutions and the gap is progressively widening even with employer engagement policies being pursued by government through its higher education funding agency in England. The overarching implication from the surveys is that a renewed focus on work‐based learning in the workplace is likely to pay dividends.


HE@Work conducted the same surveys in 2008, 2009 and 2010 of large private sector businesses employing over 2000 people who provided a snapshot insight into employee attitudes in large organizations in the UK and an indication of the views of employees about work‐based learning and its value to them. For the first time these results provide a longitudinal analysis of attitudes in large businesses including the effects of the UK economic recession.



Roodhouse, S. and Mumford, J. (2010), "HE@Work: three year longitudinal employee learning attitudes survey of large private businesses, 2008‐2010", Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 42 No. 6, pp. 319-329. https://doi.org/10.1108/00197851011070703

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