vocational excellence

Project 2: Learning Environments to Develop Vocational Excellence


To understand what constitutes a learning environment where world-beating performance can be developed. We developed a two-part diagnostic survey, based on Alison Fuller and Lorna Unwin’s model of expansive and restrictive workplace learning environments (Fuller and Unwin, 2004), to assess the competitors’ learning environments. The study examines three questions:

1) What are the features that create more, stronger, and richer learning opportunities for the development of world-class skills?

2) Is this survey a suitable instrument for assessing the degree to which learning would be likely to be effective for developing world-class skills?

3) Do the learning environments for competitors and non-competitors differ? Is so, in what ways?


The research involves eight groups:

  • the UK squad for 2009;
  • the employers of the 2009 UK squad;
  • the UK squad for 2011;
  • the UK squad for 2013 and 2015;
  • the employers of the 2013 and 2015 UK squad;
  • a control group consisting of young people in similar occupations not participating in World Skills;

The data analysis will investigate any differences in workplace environments in developing world-class skills. The findings of the study have three practical applications. The first is to further our understanding of the learning environment within the work environment and the associations between different factors of these two environments. Secondly, this information will also help to refine understanding about the fundamental nature of expansive learning environments. Thirdly, it will help us to gain a better understanding of the relationship between work environments and college environments, the interplay between the two and how this is maximized in the WorldSkills UK cases as examples of best practice.