"Thank you" – this simple but powerful sentiment is the theme of a new campaign you may have seen advertised in the national press. ‘FE Works’ is a campaign led by Lifelong Learning UK and fully supported by the Further Education Reputation Strategy Group to acknowledge the people whose everyday dedication delivers a vital service for UK Plc, and to enhance the national profile of the further education sector.
Further education needs the same recognition, standing – and investment – as schools and universities.
The point is that FE Works, and it works by building human capacity as well as by improving social inclusion and economic outcomes. It is high time these achievements were properly recognised.
The FE sector is good for individuals, their communities and the national economy. For every pound the government invests in colleges, the taxpayer sees a return on investment of £1.70, and Lifelong Learning UK’s Labour Market Intelligence shows that the FE sector contributes over £3billion to the economy each year.
A recent evaluation of learners by the Data Service found that they spoke with great pride about what they had gained through engaging with FE. It gave them confidence, credibility and real gains in terms of their current job and future career:
· 89 per cent of new learners said their training gave them skills that would help with current and future jobs and employers.
· 45 per cent reported receiving a pay rise which they attributed to their training.
They are right – employer research shows that recruiters will pay an extra £2,261 per year to new staff with the minimum set of qualifications (Level 2 diploma or five A* - C GSCEs) compared to someone with no qualifications – an average of more than £450 per GSCE.
Learners say that FE is a great place to thrive: 96 per cent of students believe they are treated with respect by staff, and 92 per cent feel support is readily available for them to use when needed.
The FE sector plays a crucial role in delivering skills for life education and training in the workplace and community. As the UK economy moves out of recession, we need to ensure we are best prepared for any future upturn. The FE sector can be the powerhouse behind this.
Year on year FE Works continues to change the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. It is time people were told about the fantastic achievements taking place – made possible by the staff in the sector. Thank you.
Dr Alison Birkinshaw, Chair of the Further Education Reputation Strategy Group
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