Mainstreaming sustainability in work-based learning at UWTSD

Heather Fish and Martin Locock

1University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Carmarthen Campus, Carmarthen SA31 3EP;h.fish@uwtsd.ac.uk;

2University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Carmarthen Campus, Carmarthen SA31 3EP; m.locock@uwtsd.ac.uk

23rd March 2016

Abstract

The University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s strategy aims to include an element of learning about sustainability in all of its academic programmes.  In the case of the Wales Institute for Work-Based Learning (WIWBL), this has been achieved through delivery of specific modules on topics with a sustainability dimension (sustainable development, environmental management, mindfulness, workplace stress) or through the incorporation of strands within other modules. 

WIWBL has just started a new European Social Fund (ESF) project, Growing your Workforce through Learning And Development (GWLAD) which provides access to higher level subsided staff development to enterprises in south west Wales, leading to university qualifications.  One of the main changes with the 2014-2020 ESF funding programme was an increased focus on addressing Cross-Cutting Themes (Equal opportunities and gender mainstreaming, the Welsh language, Sustainable Development, and Tackling poverty and social exclusion) as part of its funded operations.  Because of this change in emphasis, GWLAD has incorporated monitoring and evaluation in these areas into its processes so that its impact can be measured and assessed.

When companies enrol, they are asked to complete a simple form asking whether they currently have an equality and diversity strategy or a sustainability strategy, and whether they would like to adopt or develop one.  Their response allows GWLAD to follow up by providing templates and signposting guidance, or by suggesting that the enterprise develops the skills and knowledge of a member of staff through a relevant module. 

Learners are asked to undertake entry and exit questionnaires reflecting on their skills and well-being, providing both project feedback and evidence of impact and a research opportunity for WIWBL to explore the effectiveness of its teaching practices.

An innovation under the ESF funding has been the promotion of the Eco-code, a document that provides, in poster form, a series of reminders about the sustainability policies of the company and the practical steps that staff are expected to take.  This concept was developed to increase the visibility of policies and strategies that might otherwise have foundered at the stage of implementation, in practice.

This paper will summarise WIWBL’s experience in creating the infrastructure, workflows and documentation that will put it in a position where it can assist companies to achieve a higher level of sustainability in Wales.