Articles from NCFE

High costs put people off advancing their education

Last week marked the 7th annual VQ day - a celebration of vocational achievement highlighting the benefits of practical and technical learning to both the individual and society.Over 400 schools, colleges and work-based providers got involved in the nation-wide celebrations and at NCFE, we didn't let the day go by unnoticed. As well as highlighting some fantastic learner success stories, we also conducted some timely research to find out what the barriers are that stop people advancing their education.The results of the survey (carried out with 2000 adults across the UK) outlined that the high cost of furthering your education is the factor that prevents almost half of UK adults gaining advance qualifications. This comes as figures show that the average graduate debt is now £53,000 after tuition fees rose in September 2012.

'Outstanding' use of flexible learning highlighted by Ofsted in wake of FELTAG report

In March, I spoke about the report that came from the Further Education Learning Technology Action Group (FELTAG), which shook the sector with its vision of a digital future.

The future's ... digital?

Looking to the future, the landscape of educational delivery is far from clear, particularly with regards to the use of technology in education – a hot topic on everyone's lips at the moment.This month, a report was published by the Further Education Learning Technology Action Group (FELTAG), making a number of interesting recommendations to Skills Minister Matthew Hancock regarding their vision of a digital future.FELTAG asserts that learning technology, when used astutely, can improve FE learners' chances of reaching their potential. This is partly based upon the fact that through digital learning, a greater pool of learners can be reached, giving more people the opportunity to achieve and succeed. People want flexible learning at a time, place and pace that suits their needs and their lifestyle – an online learning experience can offer this, engaging learners who have otherwise lost interest.The paper's recommendations are split into clear sections looking at the effect on the learner, the employer and FE staff as well as exploring what level of investment is required, and how the regulatory and funding systems should support the adoption of new digital methods.Ofsted is encouraged to include a requirement for all providers to explicitly embed e-learning in their teaching strategy whilst awarding organisations are urged to increase the amount of e-assessment across FE. As far as funding is concerned, the report promotes funding by 'learning presence', not 'physical attendance' and expresses the opinion that by 2015-16, there should be a 10% wholly online component to every publicly funded qualification.In line with other recent reports, FELTAG calls for a greater role for employers in the development and delivery of the FE curriculum, engaging businesses to find out what digital skills they are looking for.Of course, should the recommendations be accepted, there would be significant changes afoot for FE establishments. For example, the report calls for entire workforces to be brought up to speed on the impact of learning technology. This would involve significant investment in the knowledge, skills and understanding of teaching staff, management, principals, governors and support staff - this learning would then have to be refreshed regularly as part of their continuous professional development.At NCFE, we support new technology within education and believe that digital methods can provide a learner-centric approach to education, helping us to fit learning to individual needs. What's more, it can support and empower teaching staff to further strengthen their teaching. There's no doubt that the pace of technological change is accelerating and it's vital that the education sector keeps up with this.It's with this in mind, that NCFE offers online resources, online assessment and has recently launched NCFE Learning Hub, a new e-learning platform which can be used to register your learners and send them course content. There's the functionality to email learners with e-learning modules to complete, as well as tracking facilities and reporting mechanisms to show you your learners' outcomes at different stages.However, having said this, we also understand that with big change comes big challenge. There will undoubtedly be a number of issues raised within FELTAG's report which you may be concerned about.We would like to know – what are your thoughts on FELTAG's recommendations? How can NCFE support you with some of the issues raised? We're particularly interested in your thoughts on workforce capacity.David Grailey is chief executive of NCFE, the national awarding organisation

How NCFE is responding to SFA funding changes

As you're all no doubt aware, this month the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) announced some significant changes to their funding rules (Approval of Qualifications for Public Funding for Adult Learners). These changes may result in the removal of public funding for a number of 19+ qualifications in 2014/15, including some NCFE qualifications.

The future of Apprenticeships and Vocational Qualifications – it's all change

It's been another month of change and challenge as the Government publishes its Apprenticeship implementation plan, 'The Future of Apprenticeships in England'.

Improving the basic skills of our young people

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an Influential think tank, has released the results of its recent skills survey of adults in the wealthier economies of the world... and the outcome for England indicates some cause for concern.

College partnerships with sub-contractors – making it work

Of the many challenges facing the FE sector today; achieving the right balance between working with private training providers and being self-sufficient is one that continues to challenge college principals and their senior leadership teams.

Closing the skills gap with traineeships

The UK risks failing to close its "chronic skills gaps" by continuing to push young people towards the university "default route", according to business leaders. A recent report from the CBI suggests that a growing demand for high level technical skills cannot be met by traditional university courses alone, and it's important for teens to consider apprenticeships as a viable alternative.

Traineeship programme will boost youth employability skills

Last month (Jan 2013), the government revealed plans to launch a new pre-apprenticeship scheme, helping young people to boost their skills, confidence and ultimately find sustained employment.

Unemployment falls… but there’s still room for improvement

It’s encouraging to see that the latest reports from the Office for National Statistics have revealed a fall in unemployment, suggesting that Britain’s economy may be on the slow road to recovery. This positive development has surprised economists who’ve been impressed with the resilience of the labour market at such a challenging time.

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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.

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