The NCTJ has been selected as one of twenty case studies in research published by the Department for Education (DfE) which identifies good practice in employer involvement in the delivery and assessment of qualifications.
Describing the NCTJ as being “totally against [a] ‘bums on seats’” attitude, the report’s case study on the awarding organisation sets out the benefits of its approach to employer engagement, both for the student and the employer or provider.
The student, it states, profits from work experience by being able to “apply his/her skills in a workplace environment and gain an in depth knowledge of how the newsroom operates on a daily and cyclical basis”.
Meanwhile the employer can directly benefit the journalism industry by imparting relevant skills to those on placement, all the while being provided with valuable content and keeping an eye open for potential future employees.
Researchers conducted interviews with: David Rowell, Johnston Press; Steve Nelson, Newsquest Media Group; Roz McKenzie, Lambeth College; and Sarah Niblock, Brunel University, to compile the NCTJ Level 3 Diploma in Journalism case study.
They gave examples of how they involve journalism employers to maximum potential in the teaching of the NCTJ Diploma.
The interviewees emphasise that students are strongly encouraged to undertake work placements not only to broaden their experience, but also to build up a portfolio of cuttings, seen as a vital asset for any job-hunting journalist.
Some course providers also give lists of journalism employers with whom they are on good terms to their students, with one centre regularly inviting the editor of a London tabloid paper to come in and help prepare students on how best to pitch their story ideas.
The overall report, ‘Employer Involvement in Qualifications Delivery and Assessment’, drew data from 46 interviews with staff in awarding organisations, employers and training providers.
Compiled by Pye Tait Consulting, it aims to inform the Department of Education’s development of new Tech Level qualifications, for which ‘employer involvement’ is one of nine proposed characteristics.
These qualifications, level 3 (advanced) qualifications for students wishing to specialise in a technical occupation, stem from a government consultation in March 2013 on the reform of level 3 vocational qualifications for 16-19 year olds. This came after the 2011 Wolf Report concluded that all too often, vocational routes leave young people with qualifications of very limited value, either to themselves or to employers.
Special attention was given in the research to what factors currently drive employer involvement in the delivery and assessment of qualifications, and additionally what the DfE could specify in its tech qualification proposals for the ‘employer involvement characteristic’.
It was concluded from the twenty case studies that work experience placements were the most common feature of employer involvement, with ten case studies “recommending” it and a further ten stipulating it as a “requirement” of their qualification.
Several examples, including the NCTJ Diploma in Journalism, also illustrated employers’ involvement in assessment activities, such as setting or marking assessments and second marking of synoptic tests.
The NCTJ was also highlighted as an example of an awarding organisation less prone to the common difficulty of first getting involved with employers. This was put down to the organisation being “longstanding and held in high industry regard”.
The full report and case study can be found here.