The Labour Party chose to launch its new manifesto for FE at the Association of College's conference. New Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Tristram Hunt, chose the AoC platform to make his first major speech. This is a significant moment. The opposition are taking FE seriously. But so are the Government. Both Matthew Hancock, Minister of State for Skills and Enterprise and Vince Cable Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills spoke at the conference committing further resources to FE. This is important for ending decades of indifference to FE by the policy elite. The mood music is changing.

The sudden reawakening (well since it all began under Lord Mandelson in 2009) of an interest in industrial policy has alerted the political class to the need for more intermediate skills, entrenching of basic skills and development of above level 4 skills. All these requirements are delivered in spades by FE. Yet for years our students aged 16-18 have received around 20% less per head in funding. This has been, and remains, an illogical allocation of resources. So what is planned by Labour?

ITEs is the answer: which stands for Institutes of Technical Education. These new institutions will be licensed and only colleges meeting certain criteria will gain the licence. The criteria are that the College has specialist provision in a vocational area; high quality provision of English and Maths and strong employer and local labour market links. UKCES may be given the baton for deciding the process and criteria for licensing. In addition FE lecturers must hold a teaching qualification and have level 2 or above in English and Maths and spend time in their industries each year to get in touch with where the frontier for their skills lies.

This is an interesting approach in that it sees responsiveness to the local labour market as a key driver for FE which the government licencing of ITEs will reinforce. It also recognises that FE is a profession with professional standards that need to be upheld. We no longer want to be treated by an apocathery rather than a qualified doctor so why would we want to be taught by someone with no teaching qualifications?

Now it is fair to say that the people I spoke to at the AoC conference were not entirely convinced by the proposals. 'Yet more bureaucracy' was the complaint. However I think these proposals need to be given a strong welcome for the following reasons. First it is likely that to run such a system an incoming Labour government will need to divert cash from other parts of the education system. Money to train people will be required. Excellence costs (just ask any major public school such as Eton or Westminster) so enabling Colleges to interface with local business will require specialists in relationship management to broker solutions to skills needs.

Second specialising in developing expertise to suit the local labour market needs to be encouraged. Growth, wealth and jobs are local phenomena. FE sits at the heart of a local system of demand and supply. Newly empowered LEPs will need strong delivery partners who can also operate strategically. A national network of specialist vocational institutions will encourage clustering effects around those centres and help attract the best suited staff and additional funding to them. No longer will a local knowledge economy be described as needing Universities alone. It will also include the local College or Colleges.

Third being a specialist at one thing does not rule out being a general provider of a range of skills. At Milton Keynes College we are developing several Centres of Excellence to meet the demands of our local labour market from Hospitality, to Digital and Media to Sport to Engineering. Some of these Centres are close to being where we want them to be. Others are still at drafting stage. The important thing is that many colleges are beginning to work in the way the Labour Party proscribes.

Ultimately a system designed to be responsive to local need and local employer demand needs itself to be responsive. That is why we might need to think again about having two departments responsible for education and skills. Why not a single Ministry for Education and Growth?

Nick Isles is deputy principal of Milton Keynes College – follow him on Twitter at @dpmkcollege

 

You may also be interested in these articles:

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Advertisers

Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

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.

Podcasts

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.

Events

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