Colleges and other training providers are responsible for teaching and training the workforce of the future – whether its young people starting on the career ladder, or adults who are looking to retrain or improve existing skills.
Every sector, from engineering to digital and everything in between, has seen significant changes. So how do those teaching the future workforce keep up to date with the latest methodologies, technical advances and working practices? This is a challenge that colleges have faced for a number of years.
The Teach Too programme run by the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) brings industry professionals and training providers together, to help tackle the challenge.
The idea is for employer staff to work with teachers and trainers on developing the curriculum, designing programmes and sharing the delivery of learning and assessment. This not only helps teachers and trainers to make sure they are up to date in the latest industry developments, but it ensures the programmes are clearly aligned to the world of work. Students are then able to grasp why they are learning as well as understand the development of occupational expertise.
Addressing the skills gap
This work links directly to the Government’s Industrial Strategy, which focuses on the importance of skills development. It recognises that if we need to increase productivity and strengthen the country’s economy, we need a highly skilled workforce.
To achieve this, we need innovative models of collaboration between employers and providers. As well as addressing this, the Teach Too programme helps to provide entry into employment for students, promote social mobility and deliver the skills that employers need.
The Association of Colleges (AoC), in partnership with the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) and Holex, has been responsible for managing this programme. We have put in place 12 projects across the country and across a variety of sectors to help develop a set of principles for colleges and training providers to use in the future.
What has been key for this programme is the range of industries involved. Gateshead College for example, has been working with four local employers to provide students with access to specialised digital industry standards. York College has worked with local employers in the hospitality sector to set up an advisory board which will pair together employers with teaching staff. Different approaches to working with the construction industry have also been established. Nottingham College has worked with sustainability and construction industries to co-design work placements, while Lincoln College has developed a project that brings students and employers together to refurbish a commercial property.
The final evaluations of the projects are taking place at the moment, but already a number of positive outcomes are visible. These include high levels of student satisfaction and increased attainment levels as well as enthusiasm and shifts in behaviour. Teaching staff have already seen tangible improvements, and recognised the importance of gaining further industry experience. The projects have also helped senior leaders reconsider the need for a college-wide strategy on working with employers.
These projects across the country have identified best practice which enhance the skills of teachers and trainers, as well as ensure employers get the skilled workforce they need.
While this programme may come to an end next month, we must embed the learnings in colleges and training providers across the country for years to come.
David Corke, Director of Education and Skills Policy, Association of Colleges