Graham Hasting-Evans, Group Managing Director, NOCN

The nature of work and the type of jobs in the economy have been changing for the last 40 years. And this rate of change is set to increase.

The intense pressure created by rapid and unprecedented technology advances are resulting in significant changes in the skills needed to drive a successful and sociality inclusive economy.

One of the other big challenges facing the UK future prosperity is the apparent inability to solve the ‘productivity puzzle’ and hence compete in the global market.

Alongside of this we have a demographic change which means that people will have working lives lasting 50 years with several career changes over that time.

The missing middle skills gap

According to many forecasters, we face the challenges of major skills gaps in filling the growing number of the professional, scientific and technical jobs, (predominantly at educational Levels 4 and 5) over the next 5 to 10 years.

Forecasts vary, but we could be looking at a growth in demand for this level of skill of up to 5 million in the medium term. This gap is now starting to be called the ‘missing middle’.

In this context we must welcome the fact the Government has been reviewing what it might do.

On 8 July 2019, the Government issued a new consultation on ‘Higher Technical Education' covering vocational qualifications at Level 4 and Level 5.

These set out proposals to establish a new portfolio of Higher Technical Qualifications (HTQs) to be approved and delivered through the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (the Institute).

These qualifications would be designed to allow learners to achieve the knowledge, skills and behaviours set out by the Institute’s employer-led occupational standards. Approval would be overseen by the Institute’s Route Panels.

The qualifications would be adequately funded, ‘branded’ and supported by wider information, advice and guidance.

A step in the right direction

At first reading this appears to be a step in the right direction. It is crucial that these qualifications are industry based, supported by employers and deliver what the economy needs.

They also need to be able to support two distinct types of learners:

  1. Those young adults that will progress on from A or T Levels and see these as a route to a Degree or Degree Apprenticeship.
  2. The second type of learners, which will probably be the biggest number, will be adults, already in the workforce that are upskilling to match demand and career opportunities.

It is essential that the design of the qualifications and the delivery model is modular, flexible and supports the second and bigger cohort of learners.

Approved training providers would deliver training for these new HTQs, with regional/local leadership.

In order to ensure quality the OfS would develop a set of registration conditions, which must be complied with by training providers.

It is intended to improve accessibility through greater flexibility and ensuring learners have ongoing support, including financial support.

National Colleges, Institutes of Technology, FE Colleges and employers are expected to spearhead delivery.

I also think that other types of providers will be able to contribution quality training.

To achieve the Government’s ambition we need to see that there is both adequate as well as flexible funding models in place to support these HTQs.

Areas to mull over

Quality control - Looking at other aspects on the consultation document, I am confused by the proposals on the control of quality as well as regulation, as this appears to be split between the Institute, Ofqual and OfS. One wonders how effective and efficient this proposal is.

Branding - There is also a question in my mind about overall branding of our technical and vocational system. Might it not be easier to have one ‘brand’ instead of several different names?

There is much to mull over during the summer holiday period.

Note the consultation closes on 29 September. Enjoy the read.

Graham Hasting-Evans, Group Managing Director, NOCN

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


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.


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