Kirstie Donnelly MBE, CEO of City & Guilds Group

At a recent House of Commons Education Select Committee roundtable event I attended, the discussion turned to the benefits of adopting a ‘German style’ FE system here in the UK. While now is absolutely the time to be looking at the vital changes we need to make to futureproof our FE and skills system, I have never believed in trying to import another country’s education system wholesale, in particular because it has been developed to tackle different skills needs and operate in an entirely different ecosystem.

Instead, I believe our energy would be better spent ‘borrowing’ elements of the German system, as well as looking to other nations such as Singapore which also have a world class approach to continually skilling and re-skilling their workforce. If applied thoughtfully, these new elements could help to develop an even better world class lifelong learning and skills system that suits the culture and existing framework specific to the UK.

With unemployment predicted to reach 4 million by the end of the year, there is real urgency in creating a skills system that can help people of all ages get back into work and develop the skills employers need most.

The forthcoming FE Whitepaper is a golden opportunity for Government to create the right environment for our FE system to play a central role in reskilling people for a post-Covid world. Here are the key priorities that I believe should be addressed in the forthcoming FE whitepaper.

Create a national skills plan which will equip us to take on the challenges that lie ahead

It’s time for a new funding model and a solid national plan which is designed to take on the three-pronged challenge of Covid-19, unemployment and Brexit. Any national skills plan must recognise that the role of further education is integral to driving economic growth - not just to deliver on good outcomes for individuals, but also to deliver on the skills required to grow our economy. Covid-19’s devastating impact on the labour market means that, moving forward, any FE strategy must be geared towards supporting economic recovery, encouraging the learning and upskilling of individuals and above all, helping people into jobs.

Transform how FE is funded

It would be unrealistic of me to sit here and expect more money to flow through the system – although this would be obviously welcome and beneficial. However, what we must do is make sure that every single penny works hard and delivers on employers’ and individuals’ needs.

For example, there is the question of the unspent £2.5bn National Skills Fund which has real potential to be transformative and could be used immediately to support skills needs for people who have Level 3 or higher skills but find themselves unemployed. The criteria of existing funding pots, such as the Adult Education Budget, could be broadened to ensure it also supports bitesized and online learning offers, which will help people of all ages quickly back into employment. And lastly, the scope of FE loans could be broadened to create individual learner accounts that can be accessed throughout people’s lives to help them gain new skills or switch careers.

Empower regional authorities with more autonomy to deliver on local jobs needs

An overarching National Skills Plan should also be backed by flexible funding and be prepared to devolve decision-making to regional authorities to deliver on local needs.

Each region across the UK has different economic needs, skills and strengths – Cambridge is a centre for science, the West Midlands is home to all things automotive, Sheffield, Liverpool have the largest concentrations of health and social care skills, whilst London and Reading are renowned for design and marketing. We need to empower regional authorities to be able to deliver against local needs. This includes creating devolved strategies which ensure that skills of workers match the skills required of regional employers and where necessary, creating opportunities for individuals to reskill. A skills deficit is costly to employers, workers and governments and if we get it wrong at a regional level, these gaps will inevitably lower productivity and economic growth at a national level.

Alongside this, clear success measures must be put in place from the outset so that programmes are delivered against objectives – the regions that deliver successfully on these parameters should be incentivised through further funding.

Ensure that lifelong learning is at the heart of our FE strategy

Lifelong learning should be an integral part of a career trajectory and everyone should be entitled to it – be it a full-time student looking for their first job through to older workers seeking a career conversion. Today, this becomes even more important, with many looking to switch careers altogether due to the rapid changes to the jobs market we’re seeing. Some industries have been more affected by the economic changes than others, meaning many thousands of workers may be displaced from these, and seeking work in other sectors. It is important to keep a handle on these changes and create a bridge between industries that are reducing their workforce and growing sectors which require a related skill set.

Part of this should include elevating the role of careers guidance and recognising that this should go hand in hand with the lifelong learning cycle for people of all ages – no matter who they are or where they come from.

Difficult times lie ahead but in order to rise to the challenge, changes are needed to keep Britain’s FE system in shape, as it has a crucial role to play in helping to get the UK back to work and our economy in good health.

By Kirstie Donnelly MBE, CEO of City & Guilds Group

You may also be interested in these articles:

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Advertisers

Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

Latest Education News

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.

Sector News

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.

Events

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.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page