From education to employment

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Rob Wye, Director of Strategy and Communications, Learning and Skills Council.

[On the FE Bill’s abolition of 47 local LSC councils]

What we were asked to do in the FE white paper was to look closely at the non-executive structures of the Learning and Skills Council. We have already significantly reformed the executive side, and this is the non-executive catching up. So the non-executive formal structure will be a single national council and the nine regional councils will be engaging with local stakeholders, but we will not have those 47 local councils once the Bill goes through.

[On the proposed powers of intervention for failing colleges]

It is clearly important for us that we eliminate poor quality; we were always working hard on that front, as has the sector. The amount of poor quality in the sector has been greatly reduced, and the likelihood of us using those powers of intervention, which currently lie with the Secretary of State [Alan Johnson], is pretty remote. I think the mere existence of those powers will cause either governing bodies or principals to take necessary action.

[On recent cuts to the adult education budget]

Overall, the total amount of funding going into adult learning year on year from 06/07 to 07/08 is a slight increase. What the cause for concern is around the focus of that funding. So we”re focusing more on Skills for Life, on Level 2 and on Train to Gain. The amount of money for adult and community learning is remaining static and that does mean that there is a further pressure on learning of other kinds beyond those priority areas, and that has a downward pressure on learner numbers.

But we”re looking to raise more fees from employers and individuals.

[On Train to Gain being a “short-term fix” and not a long term solution]

I don”t think that is true. I think you”ll find that, Sandy Leitch, when his report comes out, sees the approach of Train to Gain, which is about listening to employers and delivering what they require across a whole piece, is here to stay. People tend to focus on Train to Gain being all about Level 2: it’s not. It’s about listening to employers and working through what they require; some of which the state will fund, some of which we”ll look to them to fund themselves.

[On teaching to targets as opposed to the general scope of learning]

I don”t think there is a contradiction there. The best way for someone who is inactive, or disadvantaged or disaffected, to get back into society is getting the skills they need necessary to get a job. And so wherever possible, we”ll look to see that link to moving back towards the labour market, getting the skills you need, getting a sustainable job. We recognise that for some people that is going to be a longer journey than for others, and we recognise that for some learners with learning difficulties, that is a small step towards employment.

Certainly, that is a journey we would like to see for everyone.

[On the Education and Skills Committee Fifth Report’s finding on the difficulty in evaluating spending success in FE]

I think it is easy to measure the outcomes in terms of qualifications, and working with the sector, we have hit and exceeded every target that has been set in terms of qualifications. The impact of those qualifications and those learners being more qualified in terms of economic and social gain is the more difficult thing to measure, and we are beginning a research project to look at that, because we see that as a gap in our armoury.

Rob Wye, Director of Strategy and Communications, Learning and Skills Council.

Related FE News articles:

Government Publish FE Bill ““ 22/11/06

“Fund Those Areas of FE That Need Help ““ 20/11/06

“Redirect Resources to the Frontline ““ 17/11/06

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