Engaging employers has become synonymous with succeeding in the Further Education sector, but has managed to remain as difficult to accomplish as spending less than £3 in any popular coffee chain.

In the FE sector, it has become painfully clear that engaging with employers to involve them in the formulation and implementation of courses is the only way to meet the Government's targets. It also serves to follow the path laid out by Sir Andrew Foster as to the role of FE "“ to whit, the transforming of the British skills base from the current parlous state to one that ensures Britain's competitive position in relation to emerging and partner economies in Europe and globally.

In an effort to disseminate the lessons learnt from professionals across the country, Perperitus are currently holding a series of Employer Engagement Coach (EEC) programmes around the country. These are designed to ensure that employers, sector stakeholders and learners have the best of all possible worlds, in the hopes that education and the workforce will ultimately be the winners.

The Programme

There are benefits on offer to all. For instance, the aim is that employers will benefit through gaining the best possible experience of Work Based Learning (WBL) provision. This will enable the workforce either extant or joining to become better trained, thus driving up efficiency and the profit margin whilst improving the recruitment and retention picture for the company. If this is demonstrated to the employer, it is much more probable that further provision will be purchased.

There are further benefits for the training provider and for the learner. For the former, it will bring greater success in the competitive training market and enable them to close a greater proportion of opportunities. And for the learner, the programme hopes to offer them the best chance of successful training through interactive engagement with both the employer and with the training provider.

The EEC programme aims to offer the following specific benefits. It coaches individuals to engage with employers; it generates additional revenue through charging methods; it provides a single and unified approach based on the best practices as shared in the workshops; it builds confidence and ensures that employers and learners make the best use of the programme; it helps in the dissemination of accurate information swiftly; it aims to build a long term relationship with the employer; and it reduces the time it takes new partners to reach the accepted level of performance.

Some Positives

The one day workshop programme is offered for the benefit of brokers (advisers for Train2Gain (T2G) and Business Link), Colleges, Connexions, the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) professionals in training provision and quality, the Learning and Skills Development Agency (LSDA) and / or the Quality Improvement Agency (QIA), Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) and Training Providers.

Some individuals have already offered their praise to the programme. Guy Timson, the Workforce Support Manager for Corporate Training at the City of Bristol College, said: "The workshop was extremely worthwhile and constructive for all levels of organisational professionals. I personally gained a lot from attending and would encourage other top performers to take part in future EEC workshops. The combination of people was excellent for the task and everyone was made to feel at ease with responding to exercises. The facilitator ensured a collaborative, effective and fun environment through his approach by laying good foundations, something many miss - ground rules, back ground to project, aims etc."

Matt Garvey, Director of the Sales and Marketing Academy, commented: "I constantly help providers and colleges improve their employer engagement through training. The Employer Engagement Coach is the logical next step. It is an innovative and effective tool that will sustain these skills so that success with employers becomes imbedded and continuous. I recommend that all professionals involved with employer engagement use the coach because it replicates the skills, knowledge and attitudes of the best performers in our industry."

Jethro Marsh

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