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Relationship Research

Following similar research in 2013, we have been commissioned by a national funding body to design and undertake an online survey of stakeholders and educational institutions. The object is to measure the strength of their relationship with these stakeholders and identify opportunities for improving engagement in the future.

The results from this survey, coupled with more detailed analysis from a series of follow-up telephone interviews, will enable us to compare with our previous findings and deliver further valuable insights to underpin strong future engagement.

National Funding Body

Leading Business by Design

With population numbers growing and energy costs rising, the UK is in urgent need of smart, energy efficient new homes. For this to happen the house building sector needs to demonstrate levels of design-led innovation and supply chain collaboration which will, ideally, exceed planning conditions and contribute to sustainable communities in the future.

We have developed case studies from across the UK designed to showcase best practice design in housing construction. These are supported by a detailed report containing recommendations for policymakers, industry and others.

Large Independent Charity

Supporting Postgraduates

Postgraduate qualifications help to deliver the high levels of skills and knowledge needed by the modern UK economy.

But, far from growing, enrolments for postgraduate taught Master’s courses have seen a decline in recent years. Therefore, in 2014, the Chancellor announced a new state-funded loan for postgraduate taught study, and in the 2015 Budget the government announced a review of support for research postgraduates.

Pye Tait Consulting was given the task of analysing the data from an important national consultation on the Government’s proposals. Our report will inform next steps in the development of future support.

Central Government Client

Protecting Energy-Efficiency Consumers

Making homes more energy efficient can shrink their carbon footprints and reduce energy bills. The UK Government is encouraging homeowners to install energy-efficiency technologies, via a range of schemes such as the Green Deal and the Renewable Heat Incentive.

But, amidst customer concerns about sub-standard installations, the client commissioned Pye Tait Consulting to assess the strengths and weaknesses of quality assurance in the domestic energy efficiency and low carbon market.

We found an overly complex framework, with clear opportunities to strengthen consumer protection and reduce bureaucracy. Energy assessors and installers have to deal with multiple, complex sets of rules and regulations, while the level of consumer protection varies greatly between Government schemes. Our work also highlighted a number of inconsistencies and gaps in quality assurance measures, including redress processes to correct any sub-standard work.

The full report makes recommendations to simplify the landscape and close the loopholes in the quality assurance framework.

Report on energy efficiency quality assurance

Large Independent Charity

Skills Challenges For Energy

Work which we’ve recently completed for UKCES has revealed skills shortages in a number of key occupations in the energy sector, including shortages of engineers and technicians. The need is to address these gaps and shortages urgently to enable the UK to compete in an increasingly global market.

Our report highlighted the scale of the challenge facing the sector: strong competition for skills from other sectors and countries, an ageing workforce, and poor visibility of the energy industry as a career prospect for young people.

We found that energy employers are reluctant to invest in formal training for an increasingly mobile workforce. Concerns about wasted investment are part of what has led to many employees working on short-term contracts. Yet, by 2022, around 23,000 people in the energy workforce will have retired and the total number of jobs will have grown by over 15%.

Report on skills challenges in energy

Executive Non-Departmental Public Body

Construction Careers

This year sees Pye Tait conduct its third annual review of careers information, advice and guidance in the construction sector. This work involves gathering views from over 2,000 individuals – young people, parents and careers guidance professionals – on the attractiveness of careers in construction.

The findings will be benchmarked against the two previous years’ results, with separate reporting by GB nation, and by respondent group.

National Training Organisation

Energy Efficiency Curriculum

Following a comprehensive scoping study carried out by Pye Tait Consulting in 2014, we have recently been asked to develop a qualifications unit, or set of units, covering energy efficiency knowledge. The unit/s will be used as part of qualifications undertaken by Modern Apprentices in Scotland.

The work involves liaising with training providers, professional bodies and others with an interest in promoting energy efficiency. The resulting units, to be developed in partnership with these organisations, will be designed in line with requirements set by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA).

National Training Organisation

Intermediate Technical Education

Take-up of intermediate technical education in England has been in decline for the last few years, particularly in subjects such as engineering.

Pye Tait was commissioned to examine the possible reasons for the decline in take-up and to investigate whether there is potential for unmet demand from employers for intermediate technical qualifications.

Offered by Further Education Colleges and Higher Education Institutions in England, intermediate-level qualifications take the form of mainly HNCs, HNDs, and Foundation Degrees.

Research is ongoing.

National Funding Body

MOOCs – the future of corporate CPD?

In recent years, the MOOC – or Massive Open Online Course – has been causing a stir within the higher education scene in the United States. Branded as a tool to democratise education, MOOCs offer learners the opportunity to take specially designed online courses delivered by Ivy League University professors at their own pace, in the comfort of their own homes, and more often than not, for free.

The first MOOC was launched in 2008 and within four years their growth in popularity and demand in the United States led to the New York Times dubbing 2012 ‘The Year of the MOOC’. Since then, the popularity of MOOCs has spread across the globe. In 2013, the Open University – the UK’s high successful distance-learning platform – launched FutureLearn which hosts specialist MOOC courses from the top universities in the UK and abroad including King’s College London, Cardiff University, Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Edinburgh. MOOCs are now offered from universities across Asia, Europe, South America and Australasia.

The business world has taken notice. The notion of the ‘flipped classroom’, whereby traditional classwork is replaced by specially designed homework which learners discuss and mark among themselves, is becoming an increasing popular concept with employers and is a format in which the MOOC excels. In addition, the MOOC’s offer of cheap and easily accessible courses catering for learners of all levels has the potential to dramatically affect the future of corporate training. A recent report from Duke University and RTI International found that over 70 per of employers surveyed could envisage using MOOCs in the future as part of their CPD training provision.

So why are there not more businesses switching to MOOCs? One explanation may be the lack of universally recognised certificates and qualifications awarded at upon completion of a MOOC. Although some course providers award their own approved certificates, currently these are not widely recognised as an equivalent to a qualification achieved from the university itself. Duke University’s research suggests that this could change in the future, with over half of the employers surveyed stating that they would consider using MOOCs during recruitment as an indication of a candidate’s character i.e. motivated, organised, interested in personal development .

There are also a limited number of business centric courses – a large proportion of MOOCs focus on computer science and technology – although this looks to change in the future with the growing interest and level demand for MOOCs on all disciplines.

As MOOCs continue to grow rapidly in popularity and alter the education and training landscape as a result, could they also pave the way for a new approach to employee CPD training?

The transformation of the energy sector

The energy sector is arguably one of the fastest changing industries in the UK. It comprises radically different sub-sectors, with coal mining in decline at one end of the spectrum, and renewable technologies experiencing rapid growth at the other end.

Emerging technologies and a growing awareness of fuel constraints are transforming not just the energy that is used, but the way in which we use it. The industry is increasingly being moulded by Government commitment to a shift to a low carbon economy, with policy and market drivers pushing for greater energy efficiency and cleaner fuels.

Energy is at the heart of virtually everything we do, and within businesses, the cost and availability of energy directly or indirectly influences a wide range of factors such as procurement, risk management, investment decisions and resourcing.

Unsurprisingly therefore, reducing energy consumption and becoming more energy efficient are two high priorities for many businesses, regardless of organisation size or sector.

Yet the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that energy savings associated with more energy efficient technologies are actually likely to result in significant increases in energy consumption – which may be as much as over 50 percent globally. Development of energy saving technologies may therefore drastically backfire, if lower energy costs due to greater efficiency actually results in higher energy consumption than would have been the case without those technologies.

Furthermore the digital economy demands a large share of the energy footprint – the Digital Power Group estimates around 10% of the global electricity output is being used to power our increasing numbers of gadgets – smartphone, tablet, gaming devices etc. This is equivalent to the amount of electricity that kept all the lights switched on globally in 1985.

Urgent attention needs to be given to the amount of energy that is being literally devoured. The drive for energy efficiency should not detract from the growing problem of increasingly high levels of energy consumption.