Projects developing and implementing the use of appropriate technologies and processes to enable HE-level learning services that meet the needs of learners in the workplace, and of their employers. Running for 18 months to two years from March/April 2009.

Lifelong learning and workforce development

An increasing number of students are benefiting from education later in life, bringing diverse experiences, skills and needs, bringing rich life experiences to their learning and adding value to employers and to society. Learning in a Digital Age: Extending Higher Education Opportunities for Lifelong Learning demonstrates, through a range of case studies, how institutions are already using technology to attract and retain diverse groups of learners, offer professional development opportunities for their staff, and enhance engagement and collaboration with employers and other organisations with a stake in effective lifelong learning, for example, by improving access, streamlining institutional processes and providing more efficient and effective support at entry, while on course and beyond

Aimed at individuals in further and higher education who have an interest in lifelong learning: academic staff, lecturers, tutors, learning support staff, learning technologists, and information, advice and guidance professionals, the publication signposts some of the effective higher education practice taking place in the UK and addresses the benefits and challenges that arise in a digital age.

Synthesis reviews and overal summary

Lifelong learning coverThe SSBR Support team produced 12 Synthesis reviews and an overall summary of the  LLL&WFD programme. This programme was the third tranche of projects in the Institutional Innovation Programme. The programme was supported by a central Support, Synthesis, Benefits and Realisation (SSBR) project which was managed by Oxford Brookes.

  1. Mobile technologies (PDF )
  2. Flexible frameworks (PDF )
  3. Accreditation of Prior (Certified or Experimental) Learning - AP(E)L (PDF )
  4. Portals (PDF )
  5. Mentoring (PDF )
  6. e-Portfolios (PDF )
  7. Employer engagement  (PDF )
  8. Technologies and standards (PDF )
  9. Technologies for retention (PDF )

Final synthesis summary (PDF )

The 13 Projects in the LLL&WFD programme developed and implemented the use of appropriate technologies and processes to enable HE-level learning services that meet the needs of learners in the workplace, and of their employers.

The Leitch Review of Skills and the Government’s subsequent publication of Innovation Nation and the World Class Skills implementation plan challenge institutions to deliver work-based learning and higher level skills for work, including demand-led continuing professional development modules. The objective is to contribute towards the target established by Lord Leitch of 40% of adults of working age having a higher education qualification by 2020. This target is seen as essential to advance the nation’s competitiveness and skill levels, as well as enhance opportunities for innovation. As 75% of the 2020 workforce are already in work today, and the required growth in student numbers will depend significantly on those population age groups set to grow - i.e. older learners - it follows that much of this learning will need to be delivered in the workplace and on a flexible (probably part-time) basis. This will require more extensive delivery by institutions of workforce development services to organisations. However, educational institutions may not have the processes and technical infrastructures in place to support these priorities, and manage the resulting relationships and information flows.

A vision for lifelong learning and workforce development

Lifelong and work-based learners, including adult returners and those undertaking a career change, have easy access to appropriate information, advice and guidance, to help them find courses which meet their needs. They are able to use a collection or portfolio of formal and informal evidence of their achievements in education, training and work to help demonstrate to providers their suitability for a learning opportunity. Institutions have well-managed, well-understood and affordable processes, supported by technology, for assessing evidence of prior experience and learning and offering places.  A wide range of learning opportunities (including continuing professional development) are available to lifelong and work-based learners, with a range of study hours, course length, attendance patterns and educational/skills levels. Accredited units of learning are appropriately sized but combinable within and across learning providers. Employers and professional and sectoral bodies are fully engaged with developing courses where appropriate. Institutions and employers recognise the existing skills and expertise of lifelong learners, and their access to further expertise through their physical and virtual networks, and design learning opportunities accordingly. Learning opportunities and resources are flexible in the light of the learner’s developing needs, and include appropriate support in the development of skills for lifelong learning and employability. Learning activities and assessments are related to the learner’s own employment or other context and recognise the value of collaborative work.  Learners are well-supported through a range of online and face to face mechanisms, by university and work-based staff and mentors. Work-based mentors and other relevant staff within the employer have the information and support they need from the institution and peers to become fully engaged in supporting and following the progress of work-based learners. Learners can record and reflect on their personal and professional development achievements on an ongoing basis, and share these with employers, professional bodies, peers and educational institutions as they choose.Employers from all sectors can easily find out about the learning and staff development opportunities, consultancy and advice which are available to them from an individual educational institution or consortium. Institutions can help employers identify how training and continuing professional development of staff can help meet organisational needs. There is a culture of staff development among employers, motivated by the need to retain and develop staff and by business development and sustainability imperatives, and facilitated by staff exchange, placements, mentoring and secondment schemes. Institutions have clear processes for enabling and recording interactions with employers and linking their knowledge exchange, research and educational and professional development offerings.

Funded projects

The 13 projects funded on this call, built on existing strengths to provide a workable solution at a (cross-) institutional level, which other institutions can learn from. They were led at an institutional level and engage with institution-wide processes. Projects included aspects of strategic process review, change management, embedding and staff development, as well as technical development, implementation or integration. They did not just investigate but instead implemented technology, processes and practices that address well-recognised institutional issues, align with relevant institutional strategies and provided long term sustainable benefit to the institution(s). The solutions are relevant and transferable to the wider sector.

Programme Events

23-24th April 2009 Start-up Meeting
28-29th January 2010 Change Agents in Higher Education
20th October 2010 Festival of Assemblies
28th January 2011 Final Programme Meeting 


Start date
1 March 2009
End date
31 March 2011
Funding Programme
Institutional Innovation Programme
Strategic Themes