Responding to the big FE and Skills Challenges


AELP CEO discusses the main challenges to the further education and skills sector

The ability to work successful with employers is the unique selling point that makes training providers well placed to handle the considerable challenges posed by the further education and skills sector.

This was the key message from the Association of Employment and Learning Providers new CEO Stewart Segal in his address at the AELP Autumn Conference

“Providers are meeting the current challenges from a position of strength. Nevertheless we have to work even more closely with employers. We have to put them at the centre of the programmes and balance their needs with the needs of learners, while delivering quality services.” – Stewart Segal

The big challenges:

Stewart Segal highlighted several short and long-term challenges to the FE sector as providers adapt to the Governments ‘rigour and responsiveness in skills’ agenda.

Short term:

  • Careers Guidance - Introduction of Raising the Participation Age and change in careers guidance.
  • Funding System – Changing to the new SFA funding system and matrix, a new ‘streamlined system’
  • New Programmes – Introduction of Study Programmes and Traineeships
  • 24+ Advanced Learning Loans
  • Success Rates - Work Programme success rates and links with SFA Provision for the Unemployed programme
  • Ofsted – The new Common Inspection Framework.

Medium and longer term: 

  • Government Investment - reducing investment in adult skills and the possible extension of loans
  • Flexibility - retaining flexibility in contracts, creating an outcome responsive curriculum.
  • Equality - improving the level playing field for independent providers
  • Localism agenda
  • Apprenticeship reform
  • Qualification reform
  • Contracts - Youth Contract, Work Programme 2 and Work Choice. 

In his address Segal expressed considerable optimism that sector would be able to adapt quickly to the changing further education and skills landscape.

What are the biggest challenges to the further education sector? Share your views in the comments section below.

Tor Macleod 09:17

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