SMaRT Pathways 2022

First Step Trust

First Step Trust has worked over many years with the long term unemployed to provide a safe learning space that will enable them to develop confidence and demonstrate skills and competence in a practical workplace environment – motor vehicle and catering being their two main areas. Building on a successful proof-of-concept VR tyre-changing module, this project aims to design all 10 modules of an MVT programme to IMI Entry Level 3.

Many of the workforce members live with issues such as anxiety and poor literacy which disadvantage them in accessing meaningful employment opportunities. This project will design and deliver a 10-module programme in motor vehicle maintenance in collaboration with the Institute of Motor Industry awarding body and Halfords. Initial work confirmed that many of the workforce members had difficulty with understanding written instructions and proving their competence through written tests.

They also lack confidence in their learning. The completed proof of concept demonstrated how VR (Virtual Reality), video, AI (Artificial Intelligence) and other vocational technologies could be used to develop a training tool that allows users both to learn and to demonstrate success without requiring high levels of literacy. The long-term aim is to enable those furthest from the labour market to show that they have the skills to succeed in stable employment.

During the funding period, First Step Trust they will design all 12 modules to IMI Entry Level 3. They will achieve IMI accreditation as an approved centre to deliver the course. As each module is designed to IMI standard, the VR developer, First Step Trust trainers and learners will create the associated content and an Impact Research methodology. The solution will be piloted with learners in the community in London and the North West. This will involve blended technologies, peer trainers and work experience placements (as appropriate) - all of which address issues of low confidence and motivation. Using technology not previously encountered by learners means they come fresh to the learning with no memories of failing to learn this way. The focus on practical work-oriented skills reduces the likelihood of failure as learners do not have to relying on literacy skills to demonstrate competence.