From education to employment

Rob Wye of the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) Looks Ahead Exclusively with FE News

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

Perhaps it is because the weather is cold and grey, or perhaps it is because daylight only seems to last for seven hours each day. Perhaps it is the pile of Christmas trees waiting to be collected, or the wrapping paper forced into a bulging recycling bag. It may even be the crumpled list of New Year’s resolutions that no ““ one will ever read.

Whatever the measure of progress, 2006 is upon us, and seems certain to be an eventful year for Further Education. Funding, pay, focus, development, prestige, all is sure to be vital for FE this year and beyond. We at FE News are delighted to be able to welcome Rob Wye, the Director of Communication and Strategy at the LSC, as he tells us what he sees in the months to come.

Furthering FE

Question: “What is the agency/organisation other than your own that you expect to be most heavily involved in furthering FE in 2006?”

Rob Wye: “I think for 2006 we should welcome the new Quality Improvement Agency (QIA), which gets up and running this year. And not just out of courtesy to a newcomer. The QIA will lead the development of a three-year quality improvement strategy for the sector and they”ll have a big role in raising the quality of the sector and strengthening the opportunities for self-improvement among colleges and other providers.

“We should also mention the new network of Sector Skills Councils too; they”ll be building up a head of steam this year to ensure employers in their sectors get the skills they need ““ absolutely crucial to raise our national economic performance.”

Fearing the Negative

Question: “What changes do you fear will affect FE negatively in the coming year?”

Rob Wye: “Funding is undoubtedly going to get tighter. Although a huge amount of extra money has gone into post-16 learning and skills over the last three years, the sector has also had to fund increasing numbers of 16-18 learners, more apprentices and a big push on the basic skills target. Focusing on these core priorities means there will be pressure on 19+ adult programmes beyond basic skills and Level 2.

“Colleges will have to make some tough decisions, but they also have the opportunity to look for extra income for their activities by raising fees paid for courses by adult learners who already have good qualifications and by employers, whose bottom line can benefit from increased workforce skills. So, yes, a year of tough choices but also a year where we should all seize the opportunity to make sure that every penny goes to the frontline.”


Question: “Which of next year’s conferences do you think will be most exciting/interesting and why?”

Rob Wye: “The Association of Colleges (AoC) conference is always the highpoint of the conference year as it is the biggest and it ranges right across the whole sector. The 2005 event proved this point ““Sir Andrew Foster and Lord Leitch, both heading crucial reviews going right to the heart of FE, gave major speeches from the platform. The Secretary of State was there. So was our Chief Executive, Mark Haysom and Chair Chris Banks, plus David Bell of Ofsted, John Brennan of the AoC and so on. Everyone with a major role in the sector was present.

“The event encapsulated in two full days every major issue and challenge facing the sector. It was a real cornucopia ““and no doubt next year’s will be too. Having said that, the LSDA conference is a big one for the LSC too and we couldn”t afford to miss that either ““in 2006 it will be the first for the QIA. And there are other conferences and events that may be of a niche interest within FE, but which we will always do our best to attend.”

Everyone here at FE News would like to thank Mr. Wye for his contribution and wish him all the best for 2006.

Jethro Marsh

What do you think are the key points for 2006? Tell us in the FE Blog

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