Adrian Anderson, UVAC

#Post16RevolutionaryReforms - To misquote Tony Blair the post-16 white paper should have three priorities; skills, skills and skills. To deliver on the productivity and levelling up agenda, the focus of the post-16 white paper must be on the current and future skills needs of the UK economy.

An obvious observation perhaps, but one often ignored. Indeed, the post-16 white paper must focus on what Chancellor Sunak has called ‘high productivity’ jobs.

We would expect to see less emphasis on Level 2 vocational programmes if the Government are focused on developing a high skill, high productivity economy.

Level 6 as well as Level 4 and 5

This means that the white paper needs to be about far more than just further education or skills provision at Levels 4 and 5. Arguably the most prominent skills shortage in the UK is registered nursing, a Level 6 degree programme.

Here we need substantially more Level 6 provision. Indeed, in August 2020, the Department of Health and Social Care announced funding to support NHS Trusts use their Apprenticeship Levy to train 8,000 Nurses over the next four years.

For other key public sector roles, police constable or social worker, a degree is required. Look at both the public and private sectors, and management skills are the most pronounced skills gaps. Elsewhere, the green economy will call for a range of new occupational skills at technical and professional levels. Similar observations could be made in respect of the engineering and digital sectors.

Humanity Level 6 Degrees

Universities Minister Michelle Donelan MP has of course, said that young people have been taken advantage of and sold courses with no real demand in the labour market. Higher Education should take this criticism on the chin, but it should be seen as an attack on ‘traditional academic programmes’. Many humanities programmes, such as history degrees, are highly valued in the employment market.

While an unfashionable point, critical thinking skills are of substantial value in the jobs market, just talk to employers who recruit history graduates. Humanities degrees, in this sense, are a key part of the skills agenda as well as making a vital contribution to the liberal society in which we live.

Upskilling and Reskilling at Levels 4-7

At higher levels, Minister Donelan has emphasised the importance of upskilling and reskilling the existing workforce, the use of part-time and flexible provision and called on universities to deliver more degree apprenticeships.

Two key points can be drawn from such comments:

  1. the first is the importance of developing the skills of the existing adult workforce. Too often skills are seen as just an issue for young people.
  2. The second is the importance of degree apprenticeships, a Level 6 and 7 programme, to the skills agenda and the Government’s desire to expand provision.

From Level 3 T Levels to Level 4-5 Higher Technical Qualifications

The development of a new technical route involving T levels and Higher Technical Qualifications is to be welcomed, but as UVAC has argued on many occasions in the past, must be based on the skills needs of the UK economy.

In this regard the initial focus of Higher Technical Qualifications, announced recently by DfE on the digital sector makes sense. Level 4 and 5 provision is, however, just one part of the solution to the skills gaps and shortages evident in the UK economy, we would expect to see some, but not massive growth here with a focus on quality not numbers.

Level 2 by age 16

At lower levels, while some Level 2 apprenticeships are of considerable value and ‘craft’ and ‘trade’ occupations should be valued, fewer and fewer occupations will define occupational competence at Level 2. Level 2 job roles which have, until recent years dominated Apprenticeship provision, have been most adversely affected by the economic consequences of Covid 19 and are frequently the roles most at risk from automation, think business administration, customer service and retail.

Of course, ensuring individuals can function at Level 2 is critical and the number of people without Level 2 skills is a national scandal. But surely the role of schools and Ofsted should be to guarantee that every young person, after 11 years of compulsory education, gains a full Level 2 qualification? Delivering Level 2 provision to those without a Level 2 should not be a mainstream post-16 policy objective, it should be seen as an activity needed to rectify historic and current poor school performance. And the long-term remedy for poor school performance, is to improve school performance.

Other Lessons

Elsewhere, we should learn from the experiences of delivering during the Covid-19 pandemic, with a greater and more effective use (and growth) of online and distance learning, part-time, blended and work-based programmes.

More innovative delivery partnerships, focused on particular localities and regions involving HE, FE, LEPs and metro mayors.

Three Reforms for the White Paper

  1. First, the white paper should ensure that skills provision and funding are prioritised to deliver high-quality public sector services, the government’s industrial strategy and the broader skills needs of the UK economy. This will mean an increasing focus on high level skills and high productivity roles and far less focus on Level 2 job roles.
  2. Second, the white paper should focus on the upskilling and reskilling of the adult workforce to meet the needs of the economy and our public services.
  3. And third, the white paper should set out a strategy for innovative learning based on on-line delivery, blended and work-based programmes studied part-time as the key way of meeting employer and adult learner needs.

Adrian Anderson, UVAC

'Revolutionary Forces'

In the immediate aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is easy to forget that there were wider revolutionary forces at work on the UK’s economy before the virus outbreak.

Issues such as Brexit, the rise of automation in the workplace, longer working lives, and poor UK productivity have brought into even sharper focus, education and skills. NCFE and Campaign for Learning (CfL), published the first in the series of ‘Revolutionary Forces’ discussion papers on 6 July 2020.

In this Revolutionary Forces series different perspectives and proposed reforms for the post-16 education and training system have been brought together in one pamphlet, from expert stakeholders, think-tanks and educational professionals.

Building on the recommendations outlined in the first paper for flexible reforms that support economic and social renewal, this new paper, "Reforms for a Revolutionary Post-16 White Paper", takes a deeper look at which areas need to be addressed.

The authors are:

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

Neil Richardson commented on Let’s stop being so quick to axe funding when colleges falter 8 hours 1 minute ago

Since the call here seems to include Mind the Quality,
in which ways should quality be defined and...

Abertay has published a new article: How do I qualify as a First Aid Trainer? 20 hours 11 minutes ago
FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 20 hours 16 minutes ago

The latest podcasts from FE News for 10/16/2021 -
View Original Tweet

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