Michael Davis is chief executive of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES)

I recently chatted with the CEO of a plc who told me that people in his HR department were always full of positive and earnest strategies about how to improve the skills and capabilities of the various divisions within the business.

His suspicion, though, was that such endeavours were being done to rather than done for the divisions.   He believed the most effective training programmes were those that were actually sought by those at the coal face.

His response? The budget of the HR department was moved to the divisions and role of the HR transformed from being the provider of training to being the HR partner in support of training plans that actually came up from around the business.

This, in essence, is the crux of employer ownership of skills pilots.

To encourage businesses to take greater responsibility for the skills of their workforce, UKCES published a vision for the way the government should invest in skills - one which is employer owned and outcome driven.

Encouragingly, the government supported this, and the £340m Employer Ownership Pilot was born. I believe this is a fantastic opportunity to collectively move us towards a new approach for making public and private investment in people work harder and achieve more; aligning investment in people to broader business decisions and ensuring employers have the pipeline of talented people that they need to succeed.

The pilot places purchasing power with employers in exchange for significant investment of their own.    Round 1 saw some £90 million of public funding more than matched by £115 million of inward investment from over 30 employers.  All training delivered under the pilot must be led by an employer who can prove that this training is essential to the business, will result in jobs or growth and is not available through the normal publicly-funded channels.

So, for example, thanks to the Employer Ownership Pilot, Nissan’s Sunderland plant will be training an additional 3,600 people (including 2,000 new recruits) to enable it launch four new models in two years.  Without this additional training, they would only be able to launch one new model.  In Yorkshire and Humberside, more than a dozen employers in the energy sector have got together to launch an on-site “skills enhancement centre”.  This allows new recruits and existing staff to learn essential skills, like the emergency shut-down of a hazardous power station, in an environment which combines realism with safety.  It also means that some employers, who were previously reluctant to recruit unskilled staff into such a dangerous working environment, will be able to offer apprenticeships and traineeships for the first time.

All successful businesses know what problems they are striving to solve, although the frequent refrain that they don't necessarily know what qualifications and training can help solve them is true.  That is why we have been so encouraged by the degree of involvement from colleges and providers in Round 1.  Colleges and providers who are able deliver real expertise in high quality training solutions are well-placed to form strong, lasting and mutually beneficial partnerships with employers as a result of the pilot.

Round 2 of the Employer Ownership Pilot is now open for business.  My hope is that this time around, bids will demonstrate that skills are an integral part of any wider industrial strategy. This could take a number of forms depending on the requirements of any given industry or locality. For example, employers may come together to take end-to-end responsibility for workforce development in their industry; entrepreneurs may show how they can work collaboratively with colleges to deliver high quality learning and take responsibility for ensuring that it boosts local competitiveness; and employers may collaborate through supply chains to engage and empower smaller businesses.

Colleges and training providers play, and will continue to play, a vital role in ensuring the country has the skills it needs for the future.  By simplifying and strengthening their relationship with employers – a true partnership - I believe that role could be even greater.

Michael Davis is chief executive of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), a social partnership that aims to raise skill levels to help drive enterprise, create more and better jobs and economic growth

The deadline for applications to the second round of the Employer Ownership Pilot is 28 March, although expressions of interest must be registered by 11 March. For more information, visit www.ukces.org.uk/employerownership



You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

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 yesterday

The Environmental Impacts of Remote Work: Stats and Benefits: Working from home is a necessity rather than a luxury… https://t.co/NEJrovahxg
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 Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 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, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

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