Donna Ford-Clarke, Product Director for BTEC, Apprenticeships and Digital Services at Pearson

Tech and business advances have accelerated as a result of the pandemic. Rather than preparing for the economy of the future in 2030, we have to get ready for it today. The make-up of the workforce is going to continue to evolve over the coming months and years thanks to greater automation, a shift to digital enabled roles, and transformation  happening across many parts of the economy. All of this impacts on the demand for skills and education – and so, we need a system that can adapt and be flexible to meet this great reskilling and upskilling challenge.  

We welcome that Post-16 education is at the heart of the current government’s plans for economic recovery, as well as its wider “levelling up” agenda. Significant change is on the way, highlighted by the Skills for Jobs White Paper and the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill.

However, in a recent poll of over 2,000 decision makers in UK businesses, we found that two thirds (62%) of business leaders in the UK are worried about their ability to find people with the right skills for their vacancies. As furlough ends and we all start to adjust to a ‘new normal’, this is a good time to take stock, and make sure we have the right education and training system in place to support the needs of our economy.

Within this context we wanted to understand the impact of the coming reforms. Pearson commissioned a series of roundtable discussions with educators and employers, to find out what the coming reforms could mean for learners, providers, higher education institutions, and employers across England. We also sought to understand the impact of these changes in the context of the unprecedented challenges the country faces in maintaining jobs, boosting productivity, and economic growth.

The overwhelming message from these discussions was that enterprising firms across the UK are ready to make the most of global opportunities and take on new staff, we just need to make sure hardworking people have the training options they need to be match fit.   The most powerful lesson we learnt was that giving local leaders the tools and funding to provide the right training for the demands in their area, will see the nation thrive.

The final report Spotlight on Workforce Skills: A policy report into the changing face of post-16 education policy in England from this consultation made a series of recommendations for improvement, including:

  • Extending training funding to those looking to reskill, not just upskill, will help meet the rapidly changing needs of firms.
  • Currently only those without a Level 3 qualification can have access to the funding entitlement to take a Level 3 course – this needs to change so that those with a Level 3 qualification already can also have the opportunity to reskill.
  • Giving local leaders more say over funding for training will make sure the education and training system works better for employers and jobseekers in regions across the country.
  • The post-16 system risks misalignment with the demands of the labour market and needs to be more agile to respond to shifting skills and employment patterns. The level 3 reforms could exacerbate this by removing high quality qualifications that are recognised and valued by employers.

At Pearson we are determined to play our part by continuing to develop and offer high quality qualifications, like BTECs, Higher Nationals and T Levels, designed in partnership with employers and industry experts to meet their needs. We also know that learning does not stop after you leave school, college or university – it continues throughout working lives and needs to be available in relevant and accessible formats for  those who are in the workforce or looking to learn new skills or knowledge alongside other commitments that adult life brings. The key to this is developing career- focused education and learning which is relevant, accessible, and flexible for these learners, meeting their needs. Bitesize courses, which are stackable/modular and available in high quality digital formats, allow people to take personal ownership for their learning. Access to online learning has never been more important and that's why we’ve launched two new online platforms, the Pearson Learning Hub and UK Learns in the past 18 months.

Maintaining flexibility and a broad range of options to support access to learning and reskilling is critical to skills reform. With government, educators and employers all recognising the need to support upskilling and reskilling, we have a unique opportunity to develop a skills system that delivers for everyone. It is crucial to get this right to ensure people can access lifelong learning, update their skills and make progress in their careers and personal lives. 

Donna Ford-Clarke, Product Director for BTEC, Apprenticeships and Digital Services at Pearson


You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

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