Research and analysis

Unit delivery trials: assessment of learner benefits

Evaluates learning in programmes of individual units, rather than traditional complete qualifications. BIS research paper number 103.

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Since 2010 the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) has been funding, within the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF), a unit based and credit bearing qualifications framework. This framework was developed as part of the vocational qualification reform programme. Unit delivery trials (UDTs) were introduced along with the QCF in 2009 to 2010. Since then there have been further rounds of these trials.

During 2011 to 2012 around 80 providers took part in the trials. All providers registered on the SFA’s ‘Approved college and training organisation register’ were eligible to offer fully-funded QCF units within the new single adult skills budget.

This research assessed the value is of funding programmes of units to adults aged 19 plus compared to delivering traditional, linear ‘full’ qualifications. In particular, it looked at:

  • whether unit based learning increases the number of people who achieve a first full level 2 qualification
  • whether it increases the range of people accessing and progressing into learning

More specifically the evaluation looked at how far unit delivery has:

  • allowed adults to access learning which they would not otherwise have accessed
  • helped a high proportion of learners to complete unit learning undertaken
  • improved attitudes, confidence and motivation to learn
  • resulted in more learners progressing (or intending to progress) to a further qualification given learners new skills, produced tangible
  • improvements in learners’ employment, and increased or speeded up their chances of getting a job

The evaluation was based on a telephone survey of 1,000 unit learners conducted in August 2012 and as analysis of the 2011 to 2012 individual learner record (ILR) database.