The new inspection framework defines the purpose of education in stark terms. Education now needs to provide the economy with an effective workforce.

There was a time when Ofsted judged education for education's sake. The presumption was that if learning and progress markers were strong, the outcomes for the individual and society would be guaranteed.

There has been a notable shift in tone in the new inspection framework, as education is now a driver for a successful economy. When Ofsted visits, they are looking for evidence that an organisation prepares learners for future work. There has always been a need for career guidance, and the work-preparedness required is more fundamental than directing the learner to the right path.

Here we explore what it means to help learners prepare for a future of work and how we might help.

What does ‘prepared for the future of work’ mean?

On a basic level, being prepared for work means having the technical qualifications required to be employed. It also refers to a capacity to find the right job, apply for it, and interview. In some respects, these tangible skills and outcomes are easy to cater for and evidence for an external evaluator.

What is more challenging are the intangibles of the professional behaviours required to succeed during a career. Equally, the awareness of how to personally develop oneself so you can continue to be relevant in a rapidly changing workforce. When we employ someone, we almost take for granted that they have many technical requirements, and however, we are conscious that they might not have the right character to thrive in the workplace.

The right stuff

When we get to the heart of being ready for a future of work, we discuss whether the learner has the right stuff to succeed. This "stuff" is usually hard to pin down, but we recognise this in how the person acts. For instance, they turn up to work early, dressed appropriately and ready to get started when the day begins. Equally, we will notice that they will be self-directing and understand what needs to be done next.

The right stuff is demonstrated in behaviours, but it is underpinned with something more fundamental. Turning up to work early to start on time is about discipline and accountability; it is a desire to be reliable and responsible.

Recognising what needs to be done next is about being independent and decisive. The person might even be strategic and show some of the purpose and vision required to lead into the future.

In short, the "stuff" we are talking about is character. Do our learners have the character required to succeed in the future of work?

The future of work takes character

You may be persuaded that character is the missing ingredient in learners, but how do you develop this? When funding is tight, and resources stretched, how can you empower the learner to personally develop themselves to be fit employees of the future?

Entelechy offers a two-part solution to this challenge.

First, we break down behaviours in the workplace into 54 Character Qualities. These 54 concepts drive how we behave and help us perform better each day. As a training provider, they also offer the small bitesize chunks of learning that can be picked and mixed, personalising your learners' experience.

Second, we offer an experiential and reflective learning journey that empowers the learner with the right mindset for workplace development. We encourage the learner to take control of their personal development and understand how to do this. In so doing, we help the learner continue their improvement beyond the apprenticeship and into their first job, and career.

Better character, better outcomes

The good news story in this is clear. If a learner is more effective in the workplace, then the achievement rates of apprenticeships will increase. The more self-empowered the learner, the fewer resources you need to expend to get them to this achievement.

Sometimes, preparing the learner for their future in work also increases their effectiveness on your course.