Sean Wallace offers marketing & bid writing services which help training, employability, and skills providers get more learners and win more contracts.

Let’s be honest: our industry has a few problems.

George Selmer wrote a great article recently where he talked about several of them.

It’s well worth a read: How do employability providers escape the Groundhog Day of boom and bust?

One major issue he identified was the industry’s overreliance on government funding, which presents a few difficulties.

But I’m going to focus on just one of them: government is NOT good at assessing what constitutes an effective provider.

And some of my colleagues in bid writing?

They’re REALLY good at convincing funders and primes to hand contracts to mediocre companies.

Lack of rigor in FE means no incentive to innovate 

Compared to other industries which rely on government investment (like scientific research and innovation funding streams), the level of rigor in employability, training, and adult education procurement is shocking.

A half-decent Ofsted grade, writing a great bid, and achieving targets can often be enough to secure continued funding if there isn’t strong competition.

For many providers, that means there is no incentive to innovate.

Almost across the board, independent training providers have failed to embrace improvements in Customer & Product Development, Project Management, Marketing, and User Experience which have been standard in other industries for years.

That compounds reliance on government funding because industry doesn’t want to deal with loosie goosie providers who can’t show that their service provides a positive ROI for private business.

It's time to get out of the building

It’s a challenging problem.

But ask the leaders of any unicorn startup and they’ll tell you the first step in effective innovation is to “get out of the building” and speak to your customers.

And I don’t mean that your Employer Engagement Team, your support advisors, and your tutors (although you should listen to them too.)

I mean YOU, the MD or CEO, and the rest of your leaders.

Put aside an afternoon as often as you can to speak to the learners and employers you serve.

Monthly would be a great start.

This approach is a hallmark of startups and the tech world, so I understand if you don’t think it applies to you.

But trust me, the providers who have excelled in the past year of remote delivery are those who have worked with customers to innovate in response to the unique problems the pandemic spawned.

Because nobody is better placed than your customers to tell you which of problems they need solving and how... and nobody is better placed to lead that change in your business than you.

Throwing techniques like customer journey mapping and other UX approaches into the mix can add a lot to this process. But leadership having one-on-one conversations with your customers is absolutely central to:

  1. Growing a culture of customer-focused innovation
  2. Driving effective continuous improvement
  3. Positioning your product and respond with agility to market changes
  4. Marketing your business effectively (there’s nothing more powerful than your happy customers’ words when it comes to marketing)
  5. Establishing the customer, their problems, and how to solve them as your guiding focus

Don’t let your training and employability offer be a commodity

A commodity is an economic good of which every unit is identical as far as the market is concerned.

If your product is the same as every other provider and you market yourself the same as every other provider, you’re indistinguishable from other providers.

You don’t want your product to be a commodity because that makes you replaceable.

That’s a Bad Thing™.

Imagine Oxford University. What are they known for?

My first thought (and probably yours) can be summed up in two words: “academic excellence”.

Their reputation for excellence means that nobody would call a degree from Oxford a commodity.

You’re not Oxford University but there is SOMETHING which sets you apart from other providers.

Until you get out of the building and speak to your customers, you won’t be certain what that is.

Here’s a final thought: the pandemic has focused minds in the industry and this type of thinking is getting serious attention. In particular, there’s a lot of talk about FE Colleges participating in the innovation ecosystem.

If government follows the recommendations floating around and gives English FE Colleges the freedom they want to innovate, their level of funding will swiftly make it challenging for independent providers to compete.

You can’t beat your local college on funding, but you can beat them on agility.

The providers that don't will lbe first to the chopping block next time we hit the "Bust" part of cycle.

So, what are you waiting for?

Sean Wallace offers marketing & bid writing services which help training, employability, and skills providers get more learners and win more contracts.

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

London Tech Week 2021

LIVE: DCMS Secretary of State Nadine Dorries makes her keynote speech at the Global Leaders Innovation Summit to kick start this year's London Tech...

AELP Webinar Team added a new event 1 hour

What inspectors will be looking for when they inspect your...

Overview Prior to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, it would be fair to say that Ofsted rarely focused in detail on any part of a provider’s...

  • Tuesday, 12 October 2021 10:00 AM
  • Online
FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 2 hours 19 minutes ago

RT @C3SignsUK: Student shows mettle in designing #sculpture for #steel giant's 125th anniversary via @FENews
View Original Tweet

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 Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 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, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

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.


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.


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