The world is changing, unprecedented is now being replaced with new normal and I’m sure that will be followed with something else. 

As an observer to the Skills Sector, but still keeping my hand in from time –  to – time on a part time basis – I have developed the benefit of working with many businesses in different sectors in a direct way – getting my hands dirty, devising strategy and understanding the drivers of business. 

I have built a unique insight into the customers of Skill Based Businesses – coupled with the direct experience of building two of the largest businesses in the sector. 

I have observed and contributed to the debates over the past few weeks about support for providers and whilst they are ‘special’ and should be treated differently. That has fallen on deaf ears by the DFE, rightly so in my opinion and when they did provide some support – the response from the sector was resounding and somewhat embarrassing to an outsider looking in. 

The sector really does live in a bubble – from the representative groups, it’s own representatives on its board through to the providers themselves. It is not healthy – there is little if any reflecting on the external market environment – the result is a sector which in my view is out of touch with the businesses it serves. 

The sector has to change, not just a bit of e: learning with most of it ‘keeping in touch’ with learners rather than real learning taking place – the models of working, the offers we make need to be far more flexible and responsive to the changing environment our customers are facing. I am tired of seeing the same old adverts on Linked in – putting a different veneer on the same piece of plywood.

Radical times calls for radical thinking – there has never been more time for thinking than the past 10 weeks but I don’t see much coming out of the other side. 

And then I hear the sounds of – ESFA and IFATE won’t let us, standards are too rigid, the employers won’t listen.

Now Is the time to get out of our Bubble – those that do will be the winners – I fear there isn’t enough creative thinking going on. 

Peter Marples

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