In an increasingly complex and fragmented employment support and skills landscape, with government funding reducing and the role of local bodies expanding, getting commissioning right at a local level has never been so important. The opportunities are huge – services can be better tailored to the needs of local residents and businesses - but the challenges are immense. The employment support sector is seeing a rise in complicated procurement arrangements and never-before-tried processes. Whilst undertaken with the best intentions, local commissioning can be easily undermined by simple mistakes such as ill-judged design decisions or a lack of dialogue with local providers.

In support of the growing number of local commissioners, from local authorities to CCGs to potentially prison governors, ERSA has developed a guide designed for these times - Better Commissioning for Local Skills and Employment. The guide aims to help commissioners make the most of the devolution agenda while avoiding the many pitfalls which lie at the end of the process. Helping to increase knowledge and share best practice from frontline experience, the guide is part of the sector’s ongoing efforts to ensure that the best possible services are delivered for learners and jobseekers.

One of the guide’s key recommendations is establishing a clear plan from the start of the process – mistakes at the earliest stages can pose a very real threat to the process as a whole. Starting with a rigorous assessment of need in an area is important to understanding people and costs, whilst a census of existing services means that any commissioned provision can be best aligned to take advantage of, rather than duplicate, resources, driving efficiency and better integration.

Similarly, having clear goals and carefully considering what success looks like is vital. Is success simply moving people into employment? Is the type or duration of employment a consideration? For longer-term outcomes, interim progress measures need to be in place in a procurement process to ensure that commissioners are able to monitor performance throughout the contract. Clarity around aims allows for better monitoring of progress during the contract and gives all providers a better idea of what is going to be required of them.

The guide also examines the importance of transparency and open dialogue in commissioning; early consultation with stakeholders and providers during design stages gives a wealth of practical experience that can ensure that the finished product is robust and effective. Yet maintaining transparent processes and an open dialogue with bidders throughout the process is equally key to building trust. Communication and clarity in commissioning creates a healthy process which ultimately feeds through to successful delivery.

Communication also has a role to play in avoiding some of the most common pitfalls found in commissioning, such as unrealistic timeframes and legal challenges. The most alarming prospect for any commissioner is facing a legal challenge to their decision, which can significantly delay the procurement of services and incur significant costs for all involved parties. Fortunately, transparency and communication with bidders helps to mitigate this danger by preventing disagreements or concerns from ever reaching the stage where legal arbitration is necessary.

Together, if we can get this right in more places more often, the prize for local bodies, residents and communities will be unprecedented. With central government funding being cut by around 80% in the employment support sector alone, it will fall to local commissioners to fill in the gaps in specialist employment and skills services. The repercussions of failure, therefore, could be catastrophic. Local commissioners have a range of resources to draw on, signposted in the guide for further advice and support. We need jobseekers and learners to receive the highest quality services; we hope ERSA’s new guide helps local commissioners to accomplish that goal.

Sam Windett, Head of Policy and Communications, Employment Related Services Association (ERSA)

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

AELP Webinar Team added a new event 13 hours

Recognising and supporting learners who are at risk of, or...

Overview This webinar is intended to explain the nature of harm and abuse caused to learners who may be at risk of, or have experienced sexual...

  • Wednesday, 06 October 2021 10:00 AM
  • Online

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