Evidence of effectiveness
The employer-led specialist training resulted in a wider choice of provision, which also increased the relevance of the training offered, improved value for money, and allowed for more targeted provision. Additionally, from the pilot a change in employer behaviour was observed due to reduced/removed risk in regards to cost (e.g. SMEs offered training that would otherwise have not been available). General impacts from the pilot report were: learners gained a route into employment, developed their careers or improved their confidence; businesses reported gains in productivity and efficiency; and providers realised market opportunities. Specific to the instrument was the impact of collaborative activity, such as cost savings made through collective bargaining or a reduction in duplicated training activity, meaning that businesses could become more productive through improved utilisation of staff. No exact figures were given however, as many conclusions have been drawn from qualitative research methods. Innovation resulting from the pilot is subtle. The individual projects funded under Round 1 did not generally produce transformative, unique innovations (most pilot projects adapted or extended existing approaches to training), though this is not necessarily a weakness of EOP. The key impact relates to collaborative activity. The pilot created opportunities for businesses to work together, either directly or through an intermediary, which would be an unlikely consequence of traditional funding models.
Engagement of stakeholders
Workshops and webinars were held before the pilot to ensure the engagement of employers, and events were also shared with stakeholders who are hosting their own to ensure all interested parties were contacted. The stakeholders and employers involved were also contacted and interviewed for the evaluation report, to ensure that their views and experiences were learnt from going forwards.