At the Peter Jones Foundation, we welcome the government's drive to boost both the quality and quantity of apprenticeships, and thus the productivity of the workforce, as outlined in George Osborne's productivity plan. But there are factors to be considered.

The role of businesses in creating 3m worthwhile apprenticeship starts by 2020 is, of course, integral and their apprehensions must be acknowledged and addressed. Bureaucracy surrounding the levy on large employers is a widespread concern that needs alleviating, and so too are worries about the role of SMEs and the full implications of the cost.

Furthermore, the exact extent of businesses' future input in the design and delivery of apprenticeships, which is essential if they are to get back more than they put in, as well as that of colleges and training providers, is lacking clarity – and so we eagerly await further details on sector restructuring.

What is clear is that if increased numbers of apprenticeships are going to directly improve UK productivity, the relationship between industry and educators has to be a close, effective collaboration.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI), in partnership with Pearson, recently published survey results reporting that demand for more people with higher-level skills is expected to be strong in central growth areas such as construction (+73%), manufacturing (+69%) and engineering, science and hi-tech (+52%).

The study also found that a majority of businesses are concerned about school leavers' competencies in areas including business and customer awareness (66%) and self-management (61%). Interestingly, the most important factors for those recruiting school and college leavers are attitudes (85%) and aptitudes (58%), with both considered far more valuable than formal qualifications.

This latter statistic is supported by professional services firm Ernst & Young's decision to gauge the quality of prospective employees using online tests, with qualifications unavailable to recruiters until the final round of interviews.

This general trend of apparent dissatisfaction with the ability of those entering the workforce is a long-running one that confirms the need for employers to play a real part in improving the skills landscape on a large scale.

Last month, Dr Ann Limb CBE wrote about the relationship between Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and their FE colleges and training providers. She explained that what is needed is the 'right kind' of employer engagement, as opposed to 'crude employer intervention based solely on meeting short-term business needs'; we back this logic.

If we are to put employers in the skills 'driving seat' – and get the best from doing so – we need to see a sustained and genuinely productive dialogue between and across the sectors.

The Peter Jones Foundation specialises in working closely with industry leaders to prepare students for the specific demands of the working world. As part of the Trailblazers initiative, we have contributed to the development of a Business Administration framework, led by our Cornerstone Patron Grant Thornton, and we are set to collaborate with Nielsen UK on an Innovation and Growth framework.

However, our work with businesses in tackling the skills shortage and bridging the gap between education and industry extends far beyond apprenticeships, and has proved hugely successful in the classroom.

Having designed BTEC level 2 and 3 courses in enterprise and entrepreneurship – as well as our level 3 and 5 apprenticeships – we run a network of Peter Jones Enterprise Academies operating in FE colleges across the country. Our courses focus on providing practical business experience and developing vital assets such as confidence, resilience and communication skills.

As well as informing the subject matter of the courses we deliver, our close relationship with industry leaders has enabled us to introduce experts into the classroom – through masterclasses, workshops and mentoring sessions. Our students also take part in national challenges, designed in partnership with businesses, to further bolster their skill sets.

A great many graduates from the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy have gone on to forge successful careers both as employees ('intrapreneurs') with top companies and as entrepreneurs creating jobs across a range of industries.

From our experience, it is clear that if we are to prepare the next generation to help improve UK productivity, a thorough and mutual understanding between industry and educators must be reached, and a close dialogue upheld. It is also crucial to protect and build upon the vital role of FE classroom-based learning. FE has the flexibility to be a useful and resourceful partner for businesses to collaborate with to ensure that the skills companies need are reflected in the modern workforce.

Alice Barnard is chief executive of the Peter Jones Foundation -

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 4 hours 29 minutes ago

RT @RadarforPR: North Wales @colegcambria @airbus apprentice victorious at national manufacturing awards. Read the full story at @FENews…
View Original Tweet

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

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.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page