Recent publications in the sector place work-based training at the heart of reforms to provide the economy with a workforce that is highly trained. Putting rigour and responsiveness at the heart of our skills system will help build sustainable growth and stronger communities.

Publication of the Government’s Rigour and Responsiveness strategy has been welcomed by the Further Education sector. In the paper published last month, Skills Minister Matthew Hancock sets out how the strategy, “will accelerate the reforms to the skills system, to ensure that our vocational training offer allows our citizens to compete with any in the world.”

This is both socially and economically vital to support those leaving education to enter the work place with relevant skills.

Following the reforms set out in 2010, the sector has been freed from excessively bureaucratic control. A devolution of centrally determined targets has provided more control and, as a result, greater flexibility and healthy competition between the training providers. By accelerating these reforms further, the strategy sets out a more rigorous and responsive framework.

These assurances will serve to stimulate the sector and create a greater sense of purpose for these reforms. This should provide the catalyst for change and encourage providers to become more accountable and commercially aware in a growingly and competitive market place. Given the autonomy to respond more readily to these demands, the sector will have greater impetus to achieving ambitious targets, and more success in meeting them.

The first of these has focused on raising standards in the quality of teaching across the sector. The newly formed FE Guild will be funded for assuring this quality in the FE. A series of ‘quality marks’ will ensure that these standards become internationally recognised as a mark of quality for learners and employers.

Intervention from an independent commissioner will be swift to act on any underperformance in the sector. This follows reforms to the Ofsted Common Inspection Framework, which came into effect at the end of last year; designed to tackle the one third of colleges that still require improvement. This will ensure that weak performance is identified quickly and corrected robustly.

Apprenticeships are placed high on the agenda. Reforms in the way employers and training providers work together, as described in the Richard Review published at the end of 2012, will not only encourage those into the workplace, but also support SMEs (These represent some 70% of the private sector). The demands that the Richard Review places on employers creates a greater sense of accountability and responsibility to makes these changes possible. Employers’ involvement in the setting of these professional standards, and aptitudes that employees will need to gain, will ensure they gain the relevant skills.

An agenda to drive Traineeships will also provide a combination of focused periods of work preparation with employers, as well as college attendance. Contact with employers while still in education is important as research suggests “that it can substantially cut the risk of being ‘not in education, employment or training’ (NEET)” in the sector. Employers will also have a say in the structure of these programmes, designed to equip learners with the right skills for the workplace.

The strategy plans to rationalise the funding for qualifications in the sector for 14-16 year olds, as well as adults. The intention is to fund only those that are relevant and recognized, and have input from employers. This will add credibility to vocational training courses which have lacked the support in recent years.

Many providers have struggled to show the full impact of any changes they had made to their provision with the aim of reducing youth unemployment and supporting local economic growth.

Ofsted recently published a review of its own survey highlighting how the FE sector has begun responding to past government policy. Local Accountability and Autonomy in Colleges describes how these providers should have more freedom to tailor their curriculum to meet local and community needs.

Initiatives such as the Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) were previously set up to act as a strategic partnership between businesses and civic leaders to drive local economic growth. These have had little impact and have resulted in funding wasted on training that employers would have provided without government intervention, or on courses employers didn’t need.

A better understanding in the progression of learners to employment, together with the skills that are required, could provide a more closely aligned strategy between the provider and regional partners. Often represented on the board of governors at colleges, the review highlighted the role of governors in these providers and their responsibility in holding leadership teams to account for the quality of their provision, as well as the outcomes for their learners (data determining the proportion of those who achieve their qualifications). Whilst these answers provide some clues to the improvement of governance and performance management in the FE sector, they rely fundamentally on the relationship between employers and providers.

If our ambition for the UK is to have a world class skills base, we need to closely align these to a new range of professional standards in the workplace.

According to government statistics, approximately 80% of the people who will be in the workforce in 2020 have already left compulsory education.

The proportion of this demographic who have yet to receive sufficient training for their chosen profession will be supported by the Coalition’s introduction of new FE loans, from 2013/14, to help these people access the funds they need to gain intermediate and higher level skills.

The conclusions drawn from the report suggest that employers are ready to invest, and are prepared to work with funding agencies, regional and local representatives to achieve a far greater impact than ever before. The proof will be in the understanding and motivation that these leaders can instill in their colleagues to respond to the needs of individuals within increasingly diverse communities in an ever changing economy.

Tim Evans is the Director of Lean4Learning, the education solutions provider that aims to remove waste and create a continuous improvement

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Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

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In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.

Podcasts

We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

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FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

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