Materials for Embedded Learning on the Excellence Gateway – Skills for Construction by Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) is a basic skills curriculum contextualized for the construction industry in the United Kingdom. (Note that the term “embedded” is the same as “contextualized” curriculum, that is, a basic skills curriculum in a specific vocational context, in this case, construction.) The Excellence Gateway is a learning portal which features free downloadable embedded learning materials. The curriculum is designed to improve the literacy, language, or numeracy skills learners need to succeed at work, in community-based and health-related activities, or as part of vocational training programs. It is neither a complete basic skills curriculum nor a complete construction curriculum, but rather an overlap that supports and enhances both.
The curriculum is organized into five modules: (1) The Construction Industry, (2) Health and Safety, (3) Working Skills for Construction, (4) Using Materials and Equipment, and (5) Working with Others. Each module is organized as follows: Introduction; Skills Checklist; Information and Tasks; and Theme Assessments. The modules support the teaching of a range of Level 1 qualifications in construction and can be used as an introduction to the industry and its crafts. They do not supply a complete program of learning. Instead, aspects of the training that place a particular demand on literacy, language, and numeracy skills have been prioritized. The basic skills include literacy/English language learning (listening, speaking, reading, writing, and researching) and numeracy (numbers, measures, shapes and space, and handling data).
In addition to the five content modules Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) provides learning resources, black-and-white masters, and an introduction to embedded learning methodologies.
The Excellence Gateway has many such embedded vocational curricula including catering, cleaning, entry to employment, hairdressing, horticulture, hospitality, manufacturing, painting operations, retail, social care, transport, trowel occupations, and warehousing. It also has employability curricula including first aid, food hygiene, health and safety, information and communication technology, international nurses, and this Skills for Construction curriculum. There are also other embedded basic skills curricula that are not related to employment but rather to family and community needs. Materials were developed in consultation with sector skills councils, trades unions, employers, training providers, and others, and were subject to extensive expert review. They were developed in 2005-006.
No formal evaluation results available.
The strength of this construction curriculum and some of the other Excellence Gateway “embedded” (contextualized) basic skills curricula is that they are vocationally, culturally, and geographically specific. Contextualization to a specific industry, in this case, construction, can be highly motivating for students who have already identified this as a strong vocational interest. Although the content is specific to the industry and therefore “industry centered,” if this industry is important to the learner, its content is also “learner centered.”
The weakness is the other side of that coin, that the curriculum may not easily be adapted in other countries and cultures and climates. Especially with construction, techniques and materials vary greatly from one part of the world to another. This curriculum, however, can serve as a model for a contextualized basic skills curriculum in a specific industry, and in some contexts it may be more adaptable than others.
The Skills for Construction materials and materials for other vocational settings (including catering, cleaning, English for Speakers of Other Languages support pack for catering, early years, hairdressing, horticulture, hospitality, manufacturing, painting, retail, transport, and warehousing) are available for free download on the Excellence Gateway.
For more information, please contact:
Head of Skills for Life and Employment
Department of Education and Skills, United Kingdom
The Entrepreneurship: Owning Your Future textbook is part of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) program offered in the United States and in Belgium, China, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, Netherlands, New Zealand, and South Africa. The textbook targets youth, ages 15–18, from low-income and at-risk communities. The curriculum is intended to be used in schools and in community-based organizations.
The curriculum covers concepts related to starting, operating, and exiting a small business; reinforces math, reading, and writing; and develops skills in critical thinking, communication, and teamwork. Some secondary school, and functional reading, writing, and numeracy skills are recommended for those who use it. Photographs in the textbook communicate that the program is intended for young women and men, people who are physically challenged, people of color as well as Caucasians, and people from a range of different cultures. The textbook is intended to help young people who have not created a business to understand what types of skills and knowledge are needed to run a business, and what possible opportunities exist for them.
NFTE offers a teacher textbook to accompany the student textbook; it provides lesson plans, pacing guides, and more. Although not required in order to use the textbook, a three-day teacher training is available on how to implement the program, of which the textbook is an important part. Participants in the training receive lesson plans, teaching slide show presentations, pacing guides, classroom posters, and more to use in their programs. The training is conducted by NFTE master trainers.
The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) textbook contains eight modules focusing on different facets of entrepreneurship; each module is broken into chapters that are further divided into sections. The modules are as follows:
1. What is an Entrepreneur?
2. Preparing for Business
3. Opportunity Recognition and Market Analysis
4. Marketing Plan and Sales
5. Analyzing Finances
6. Starting Your Business
7. Managing Your Business
8. Growing Your Business
Each section of the textbook has objectives defined in terms of what learners will be able to do; most are observable or measurable. The assessments ("Check your Understanding" and "Assessment" sections), however, focus on understanding of content (concepts, vocabulary, facts, or information presented), not on what the entrepreneur will be able to do. The sequencing is from more general knowledge about economics and business to the details of running a small business.
No formal evaluation results available
The Entrepreneurship: Owning Your Future textbook covers a wide array of topics related to entrepreneurship, from the big picture (what is entrepreneurship?) to the very detailed (tax implications and government regulations). The curriculum is comprehensive, covering essential knowledge that a young person interested in starting a business will need to know. Throughout the course, learners are asked to develop their own personal business plan. They can fill in the information either using a student workbook (paper) or by using the BizTech software (electronic). The textbook includes prompts for the learners when and what they should fill in based on where they are in the textbook.Another useful feature of the curriculum is a case study of a young woman that follows her challenges and successes starting, growing, and eventually leaving a catering business she started in high school. The case studies help tie together the chapters and provide learners of real examples of how a young person applies the topics included in the text to her professional life. The curriculum was updated in 2010 and the material is up-to-date and it makes use of recent examples. The format will be familiar to the learners and teachers, as the curriculum is a traditional textbook used in the U.S.A weakness of the curriculum is that it covers such a wide range of topics that it might be overwhelming to the learner. While NFTE uses textboxes, graphics, reading checkpoints, and mini-assessments throughout, it is still quite text heavy. To make the most of the curricular material, the learners need to have strong reading skills and relatively strong math skills in order to fully grasp it. If the learners are at-risk or coming from low income communities and do not have a strong academic background, they may find the material to be too complex. Also, the fact that the curriculum is in a textbook may be a deterrent to learners who have not been successful in a traditional, school environment and may be turned off thinking this is just another class.These challenges can be overcome based on the strength of the facilitator. It is imperative that the lesson plans used in conjunction with the text help engage learners, especially those with different learning needs and learning styles. The teacher guide was not submitted for this review, but it would likely provide guidance on how to address these issues.The version of the textbook reviewed is written for a U.S. audience. All of the examples are based in the U.S. and some of the topics, such as taxes and government regulations are particular to the U.S. It would need significant adaptation to be used with different audiences, especially for developing countries where the examples and activities may not be relevant to their specific contexts.
The content of the Entrepreneurship: Owning Your Future textbook is well designed, attractive, and written clearly and appealingly. The format is very well organized, user-friendly and with inviting photographs and illustrations. A teacher would need to have a background in starting successful small businesses, however, or to be matched with an entrepreneur in a team-teaching situation. In poor countries successful entrepreneurs may not necessarily handle the level of English reading required by this textbook.
The textbook sequence is logical for a classroom of young people who have not yet started businesses, but those who might be seeking solutions to their immediate problems managing or expanding their existing business, might be impatient with this and want to begin to address their immediate needs. The textbook may have useful information for them but would need to be tailored to their needs by a skilled entrepreneurship teacher.
The three–sixth month program is described as using an experiential/learning by doing approach including games, activities and events. There are some activities included in the textbook itself, often as part of the assessment, in a section called Working Together. The first 14 chapters of the textbook are to help the participant to put together a business plan. A helpful table is included (pages 144–145) on what parts of the textbook will help to develop a standard or an advanced business plan.
Much would need to be changed in order to use this in a non-western, and especially poor or underdeveloped country where a lot of the (Internet, training and other) resources taken for granted in this textbook are not available. It would be a useful reference upon which to draw, however, in a wide range of entrepreneurial contexts.
A Microenterprise Training Guidefor Peace Corps Volunteers is a training curriculum to enable pre- and in-service Peace Corps volunteers to better understand and provide business services to people who wish to start or expand small (including one-person) businesses in developing countries. The curriculum is specifically geared toward volunteers who will be assisting microfinance institutions in the delivery of microfinance and related social business development services, and it introduces volunteers to concepts, practices, and methodologies surrounding microfinance and microenterprise. In addition, the curriculum provides recommendations for activities volunteers might engage in to learn more about these topics, as well as how they might contribute by providing training or coaching to microentrepreneurs in their host communities. The curriculum also includes specific suggestions and examples for tailoring it to a particular country and community.
A Microenterprise Training Guideis designed to be self-instructional (with assistance from a technical trainer), or used in group face-to-face (or online) instruction. It begins with an introduction that briefly explains why the Peace Corps works with microentrepreneurs, as well as recommendations for how Peace Corps volunteers (the learners) should use the curriculum. Most learners will use it as a self-guided course rather than something that will be used in a classroom or workshop setting. It concludes with an explanation of the experiential learning cycle and encourages the learners to look for opportunities to apply what they learn to their experiences. The curriculum includes five modules after the introduction: 1. An Effective Poverty-Reduction Strategy, which builds the case for why micro-enterprise is a good option for development, stressing the importance of gender considerations. 2. Microfinance Methods, which explores individual and group savings/credit schemes and types of lenders typically found in communities. 3. Operating a Microfinance Institution discusses how individuals and microentrepreneurs choose microfinance institutions and products. 4. Non-Financial Business Development Services, which explains the basics for developing a business development services training plan and walks through the steps for developing training sessions. 5. Business Counselor and Extensionist explains the differences between the role of a counselor vs. a consultant or adviser and proposes that the learner take on the role as the former, taking cultural differences into account. Each module includes a Technical Trainer’s Notes section that provides guidance on how the materials can be used in small-group training. This section also includes a list of definitions for the terms used in the module (with a space for the learners to write in the corresponding word in the local language), as well as a list of resources with brief descriptions.
No formal evaluation results available
The strengths of the Microenterprise Training Guide are that it is written for a generalist who may be new to micro-enterprise development and that the curriculum can be used by an individual at a distance as well as by groups of trainees. It is participatory and engaging with lots of hands-on assignments. It draws on and references many good activities and resources developed by others. In addition, the curriculum has content that might be used by microenterprise trainers in other contexts, but these modules or activities would need to be carefully re-purposed, not just lightly adapted. One weakness is that there is not much content in the module on nonfinancial business development services, an area where self-employed people and entrepreneurs often need very specific help. For example, someone using this guide would not learn how to help someone do a market analysis, set a price point for a product.This guide is not intended as training materials for entrepreneurs or for others engaged in small business or self employment; rather, it is a training manual for Peace Corps Volunteers who will be helping them. While this is a good introduction, and there are many useful materials for Peace Corps Volunteers who offer business services in their communities, someone who had no other training might not find this sufficient. With a fair amount of additional work, this could be adapted for orientation/initial training for others who provide these business services.
The Microenterprise Training Guide for Peace Corps Volunteers provides a primer about micro-finance and microenterprise for community development Volunteers. The curriculum material and activities are designed for individuals with very little, or no, knowledge of microfinance or microentrepreneurship. The introduction provides an overview of how the material is supposed to be used and the principles behind it, specifically, the experiential learning cycle. Sharing this information is useful because the majority of learners will use the curriculum as a self-guided tool. It is also useful to have a detailed list of references at the end of the modules, so the learners know where they can find more information on a given topic.
Another strength of the curriculum is the range of activities it provides, from self-reflective exercises such as surveys that explore the learners’ attitudes on micro-finance to field visits to local micro-finance institutions in the community to help understand the products and services provided and gain a better sense of what is available in the local market. Several of the modules begin with a brief anecdote about other community development activities Peace Corps Volunteers have done in their communities, which helps ground the material with practical examples.
A weakness of the curriculum is that there appear to be missing links between the information and activities, and what the relevance is to the learners’ community development projects. It is not clear how the learners are supposed to apply the learning contained in the curriculum in their communities and it would be useful if the take-aways from the activities were explicitly stated.
Although this curriculum is called “A Microenterprise Training Guide”, it is designed for Volunteers who will be providing business development services in their communities as well as Volunteers who will be working with micro-finance institutions. While it may be useful to know about both, most of the activities and information included in Module 3: Operating a Microfinance Institution would have little relevance for a Volunteer who is working with microenterprises (for example, knowing the organizational structure of a Microfinance Institution). In this same module, however, there is a section on “Local Microenterprises” and an activity called “Getting to Know Microentrepreneurs” which a) is out of place with the rest of the module and b) is not necessarily relevant to Volunteers working with microfinance institutions. The curriculum would therefore be strengthened if it were to be split into two separate guides. Finally, written in 2003, the curriculum needs to be updated to reflect relevant statistics and references, as well as new terminology used with more recent information on microenterprise.
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Youth Build International's Working Hands Working Minds is a set of five instructional modules designed to help alternative schools and youth programs integrate classroom theoretical learning with hands-on practical training especially related to the building trades. The curriculum is specifically written for out-of-school youth and young adults ages 16-24. However, it is suitable for use with in-school and other youth and young adult populations. The program is activity-based and centers around nontechnical aspects of the construction industry that are important to master for successful employment. These include, for example, units of instruction on reading, writing and mathematics skills related to construction. Leadership development, health and safety, and responsibility and teamwork are also fostered. Although technical skill development is not covered, participants are exposed to technical terminology and concepts in the process of addressing other objectives. The curriculum has been adapted for South Africa.
Working Hands Working Minds contains five modules:
Module 1 focuses on teamwork and leadership in construction and includes 10 lesson units ranging from The Heart of Teamwork and Leadership and Diversity in the Workplace, to Effective Communication and Working as a Team. Module 2, Construction Health and Safety, has lessons on Attitudes and Behavior, Personal Safety Gear, Dealing with Emergencies, and Workplace Safety Assessment among the 13 individual units. Tools, Trades and Technology in Construction is the subject of Module 3. The nine instructional units provide a good overview of the kinds of hand tools, power tools, and other technology workers use. Module 4 covers the very basic measurement and mathematical calculations construction workers use on the job. It is a useful, basic primer, with exercises and examples designed to relate the learning of measurement and mathematical concepts and operations to practical work activity. Module 5 relates to communities. Instruction units such as Building a House into a Home, Exploring Community History, Describing a Home, and Research on Housing Needs attempt to sensitize students to the larger human and community-building role they are playing as they pound nails, cut boards, and lay rafters.
No formal evaluation results available
Working Hands Working Minds is a well-designed, easy-to-use set of instructional units in five modules intended for use with out-of-school [youth] and youth preparing for employment in the construction industry. Some of the material focuses on developing basic mathematical and reading and writing competencies relating to construction work. Others deal with generating positive attitudes about construction work, working with others, and personal job responsibilities. The material is logically organized, with an easy-to-follow format. The instructional emphasis is on active participation by the students through many well-designed exercises. The activities relate to learning the content. It is very learner-centered material presented in a way to tap student interest. This is probably one of the better quality sets of material of its kind available. The fact that it was developed in 2001 does not make it outdated because of the general but relatively timeless character of the content covered. Concepts of reading, measuring, adding and taking personal responsibility do not change very much over time. The material is not dated, but it relates primarily to the US context. Adaptation to other country contexts, however, can be easily achieved.
Education Development Center, Inc.'s Garissa Youth Project (G-Youth) Work Readiness Program (WRP) is G-Youth's primary activity for out-of-school youth. The program caters to each individual in a way that personalizes the journey and allows the participant to explore personal strengths to invest in and weaknesses to address and strengthen. Once this part of the journey is completed, youth feel more empowered to learn about putting their personal character into practical use through community services and direct interaction with their surroundings.
Upon completion of the program, youth will be equipped with a set of life and work skills that will allow them to make better decisions and transition to adulthood feeling confident and capable of taking charge of their lives. This curriculum caters to a range of youth, whether they are dropouts, graduates of high school, or university-educated. The goal of the WRP is to build the confidence and skills of Garissan youth, so they can set work and career goals and be proactive in pursuing those goals. Simply put, the WRP seeks to shift the mindset and behavior of youth from a mindset of “I can’t” to “I can” and give youth the skills to be successful in their career planning and job-hunting or job-creation efforts.
The WRP consists of three phases over a period of approximately five months:
Phase 1: Career Development Training (the curriculum under review is Phase 1)
Phase 2: Entrepreneurship Training (not under review)
Phase 3: Practical Work Internships (not under review)
The curriculum includes three modules: Personal Leadership Development, Career Planning, and Skills for Work Success. Each module is taught over two weeks, three hours a class, three days a week for a total of six weeks. Each week the youth also participate in either service learning or a career-oriented lecture series.
Garissa Youth Project (G-Youth) Work Readiness Program Modules:
Module 1: Personal Leadership Development focuses on building life skills and personal leadership skills through serving the community; hands on practical experience and putting skills into practice are well-planned.
Module 2: Career Planning is designed in a way that offers youth the chance to interact with local professionals from various sectors and industries, by exposing youth to different career opportunities at different levels of the job ladder and inspiring them with stories from role models in the community. It supports youth in identifying the career options available to them and provides them with a better understanding of requirements and future growth possibilities within each.
Module 3: Skills for Work Success is directed toward building work-readiness skills that make youth more employable and that increase their chances of succeeding in the career path they choose.
No formal evaluation results available
All skills provided by the series of modules are considered important in terms of both life and employability skills. They are all proven by various market researchers to be essential for success and helping youth become employable.
Yet, due to complexity of the text used in the student workbook, the degree to which youth will learn is highly dependent on the facilitators' ability to simplify the material in a way that makes it comrehensible and understandable by youth. Another point that must be mentioned is the timeframe needed for training completion. For youth who cannot afford to be in training for a long period of time and need to start working to generate income, it might be too long to spend five months in training. When applying the material, and as part of planning, discussions should be had with the targeted community to agree on the best time for training so that it doesn't conflict with youth’s work, if they are economically active.
Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC)
Developed in partnership with McGraw-Hill, Education For Employment Foundation's (EFE’s) Workplace Success Curriculum is an interactive work readiness program that teaches youth how to get and keep a job. The curriculum is designed to guide youth in overarching workplace principles such as work ethic, communication, and self-confidence. The program also provides detailed lessons on daily challenges such as how to prepare a presentation, interact with customers, work in teams, and manage time. The program has been implemented in several countries in the Middle East and North Africa. EFE works with local business leaders and training experts in the region to adapt the program’s content and structure to local market needs. As a result, Workplace Success lessons may be adapted to reflect the context and requirements of a particular business sector. The curriculum is available in English, Arabic and French. Workplace Success Curriculum topics include these:
The program includes 48-126 classroom hours over one to three months, depending on student and employer needs. One-third of the classroom teaching hours include interactive training; one-third are used for guest speakers from business; and one-third are for group activities, simulations, and role plays. Homework and other class-related learning activities are expected of participants and are intended to be equal to the time spent in class. For example, each participant has an internship or on-the-job training. The course is delivered by experienced local trainers who are certified by EFE after having successfully participated in the Workplace Success Training of Trainers program, in-class observation, and annual continued training. The training is offered in the Middle East and in North Africa. Facilitators must be certified by EFE after having successfully participated in the Workplace Success Training of Trainers program, in-class observation, and annual continued training. The training is offered in the Middle East and in North Africa. Although the Workplace Success Curriculum was first developed in 2005, the curriculum itself was customized multiple times based on each country’s needs (five countries total and three different languages). What makes the program unique is the pedagogy that the trainers follow as it applies to today’s market needs. EFE works globally with employers and the students to ensure that applicable topics (based on both students and employers’ needs) are covered during the training program.
The Workplace Success Curriculum training materials consist of four books and two instructional support manuals:Book 1: The Workplace: Today and TomorrowBook 2: The Workplace: Interpersonal StrengthsBook 3: The Workplace: Personal SkillsBook 4: Chart Your Career
EFE has two review processes for Workplace Success Curriculum:
Results of multiple EFE reviews for Workplace Success can be found here.
I reviewed four textbooks (in English) in the Professional Development series used with Workplace Success. These include:
Book 1: The Workplace: Today and Tomorrow
Book 2: The Workplace: Interpersonal Strengths
Book 3: The Workplace: Personal Skills
Book 4: Chart Your Career
EFE says its target group is out-of-school youth in developing countries and domestic youth from diverse educational and economic backgrounds aged 15-24. The textbook content suggests to me, however, that the target audience appears to be college level or high school or vocational school students who are seeking professional careers. The photographs, while they include a range of students from many cultures, appear to be of those who are headed toward white collar jobs. The curriculum would appear to be especially relevant for those who are headed toward careers in high-demand industries and career clusters such as: Information Technology, Health Science, Retail/Wholesale Sales and Service, Communication and Media, and finance and Accounting.
Book 1 focuses on occupations that the authors believe are most likely to have job openings in the coming years, how students can prepare for these jobs, and what the workplace environment is like: "professional business protocol, professional presence, and a customer first attitude are also explored and discussed." Book 4, as another example, offers guidance on planning a career and on developing, changing, and maintaining it with accurate information. Book 4 includes such topics as researching jobs and careers, writing a resume, advancing through promotion, networking and interviewing.
I found the content of all four books quite interesting and helpful to students who are exploring work, their first job(s) and careers. The clusters chosen are very likely to be in high demand in many of the countries where the program is currently operating. My only concern is that these were developed in 2005 and have not been updated since then and much has changed in the world economy in this time period that may need to be reflected in these books. In addition, this program is focused on what students heading into a professional work world will need, so it is based on expert knowledge of that world rather than on students' individual needs and perceptions and a curriculum that emerges from those needs. The classes are described as having interactive group activities and perhaps the curriculum is tailored through these or through the internships or on-the-job training.
The EFE Training of Trainers (ToT) manuals were not reviewed and the facilitators' guides were reviewed as they were made available to Ready for Work by EFE.
The material and flow of lessons follow a clear structure and logical evolution of knowledge and skills from one level to the next. The text is quite detailed and gives enough theoretical information and data. The program is designed to address the needs of unemployed youth in developing countries and domestic youth from diverse educational and socioeconomic backgrounds (age 15-24). If well delivered, the training can provide youth with a first step to economic activity and full engagement with the community. Yet, the language seems to be at a high level for the intended audience in certain lessons. It is worth looking at the adapted curricula to learn more about how the material was simplified and the text was converted to interactive, hands-on training activities, particularly when translated and adapted to various countries and cultures. The flexibility of the training duration and number of sessions encourages training institutes to use lessons as they see fit, but with this level of flexibility there needs to be a clear road map for redesigning the training course without missing the core competencies and to guarantee connectivity and smooth flow of the trainings which EFE provides.
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