Tom talks to Eileen Milner, Chief Executive of the Education Skills Funding Agency

This week for Skills World, Tom Bewick is joined by Eileen Milner, Chief Executive of the Education Skills Funding Agency, to discuss Funding, Apprenticeship Reforms, and the changing role of ESFA.

Should ESFA just focus on funding?

What we are doing now is consolidating the position that the agency has occupied for the past couple of years.

Funding is in our title, and funding is incredibly important to the agency, ESFA distribute about 1 pound in 10 that the taxpayer spends. That is a huge undertaking, so fundamentally funding is a core activity for us.

Before the announcements of changes that happened in September, about us taking on all of the policy responsibility for skills and technical education including T levels and apprenticeships, it is important to realise that we have been deploying oversight, working with providers, across schools, across further education, across independent training providers for a significant period of time.

We’ve been at the heart of driving apprenticeship reform. In terms of T levels, we've already been working with colleagues who’ve now joined us fully, around developing what the placement process might look like.

It might look as if this is mission drift, but I would say it's better described as consolidating things which are the best done together, into one place, into an organisation whose whole DNA is about getting things done. Which I think is probably what we’d all want to see happen in the spaces that we’re responsible for.

So, it’s a very exciting time for the ESFA, it's a very challenging time, but I am ever more convinced that we are the right shape for the task in hand.


This week for Skills World, Tom Bewick is joined by Eileen Milner, Chief Executive of the Education Skills Funding Agency, to discuss Funding, Apprenticeship Reforms, and the changing role of ESFA.

With The Drop In Apprenticeship Starts, And Employers Not Fully Utilising Their Levy Funds, Do You Still Think These Are Just Short-term Teething Problems?

I think there is a clear commitment to see the reforms through, I wouldn't want anybody to think that there isn't.

Everybody who I've met during my time, having come back to education from health, what I've been impressed by is the focus, and sense of purpose that is around skills and technical education, that this is not a nice to have, it is an essential for the country. So, I've been enormously impressed by that.

The challenge that exists in this space is to work with the learner, work with employer and for us to work with the other bodies around this, to make sure that it feels straight forward to run an apprenticeship program.

Having come from a Levy paying employer, it did take me some time to get my head round:

  • What did it mean that I was paying this bill?
  • What were the opportunities that came with it?
  • How did that require that we thought differently about our workforce?

So, I think one of the biggest challenges is that of giving time and giving support, particularly for employers to think about the opportunity that exists. To really think about the workforce you need today, but probably more importantly, the workforce you need tomorrow.

To make sure enough time is set aside to actually at very senior levels be talking about those issues, then to use the Levy monies to actually drive the development in that workforce in entirely positive ways, so you are getting the return on investment that you would expect any other area that you put your money into.

I think this is going to take time, it’s going to take determination, but we can already see some employers who’ve grasped this challenge and are really just beacons of good practice. They will not say it's easy, but they’ll say that with determination it is worth it.

We’ve got to get everybody having a sense of that, so I’m encouraged by what we are seeing already, and I think it will build overtime, a bit like a snowball that gathers momentum as it goes.

Do You Feel We Have A Coherent Institutional Architecture, With Clear Lines Of Accountability, Roles And Remit? Or Could You See That Changing?

At one level it looks awfully complex. But I think the complexity comes from the fact that we have a number of new bodies which are learning their way through this, and we've got organisations who have to work with them, who are also learning their way through it.

As we start to demonstrate what the value is of each component part, I think that complexity will settle down, and just become part of the norm.

We may find some reshaping, it would be arrogant to say that absolutely with certainty we can say that none of this might have to recalibrate a little bit. Actually, what we’ve got to be humble enough to say is that as we go, we learn, that is only right to do.

Through everything that we do for the first time, we learn something about the behaviour of the new system that we’ve created.

In that new system I think we will see people saying, well actually if we do this again, we might do it slightly differently, but learning to work together.

I’m very taken with a notion from earlier in my career, when I worked in Australia, that was the mantra there in terms of reform:

Always keep the wiring behind the counter.

So that from the perspective of the person who had to interact with something, or was the customer of it, even if there is complexity, there’s always complexity, they shouldn't always be so apparent.

What we are doing at the moment, is just trying to get our wiring a bit tidier.

Eileen Milner, Chief Executive of the Education Skills Funding Agency, talking to Tom Bewick for this week's episode of Skills World.

Tom Bewick Newsroom Strap2

Despite best endeavours to ensure accuracy, text based on transcription may contain errors which could alter the intended meaning of any portion of the reported content. Speakers have not had the opportunity for any corrections.

Subscribe to the #SkillsWorld podcast series or visit the #SkillsWorld Newsroom on FE News to keep up to date with Tom's latest quest into the Skills World.

You may also be interested in these articles:

Advertisers

Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Video Advert

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