Case Studies Evaluation of the 18-21 Work Skills Pilot for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

Vocational UK Evaluation and Research


AlphaPlus was commissioned as part of a consortium with the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) and the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) to evaluate the 18-21 Work Skills Pilot on behalf of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. This major project evaluated the role of mandated learning (English and maths to level 2) on progression to sustainable employment for unemployed 18-21 year olds currently claiming benefits.

What we did

AlphaPlus played an advisory role to the overall evaluation and are undertaking two specific strands of work. In order to deliver meaningful results from the randomised control trial (RCT) methodology, AlphaPlus investigated two aspects of the pilot:

  • the provision of assessment
  • the provision (pure online vs. blended learning)

Assessment provision study

AlphaPlus researchers approached treatment providers to establish the following information:

  • assessments used (eg publisher, versions, levels of assessment)
  • quality of assessments used
  • conditions under which providers carry out assessments
  • intentions for end-of-course assessments and approaches to ensure comparability between course-start and course-end assessments
  • intentions for recording assessment results in the pilot

Learning provision study

The aim of this in-depth study of implementations of learning was to create case studies to richly describe each type of learning provision (blended and e-learning). This ensured both the integrity of an RCT methodology and the generalizability of the study’s findings for wider use.

An online questionnaire research instrument was developed to delimit key characteristics of blended and e-learning. AlphaPlus researchers observed learning provision, either through physical visits to providers’ premises or access to e-learning content virtually.