Alissa Dhaliwal, CBI

#Post16RevolutionaryReforms - The world of work is set for radical transformation over the next decade. Technological change will revolutionise entire industries and engender employer demand for new and higher-level skills.

The post-16 white paper therefore represents a critical opportunity to locate the needs of the future economy at the heart of our education and skills system.

Strategic Partnership

Strategic partnership between business, further education and higher education will be vital to capitalising on opportunities created by new technologies and ensuring labour market resilience to economic upheaval.

In this sense, tertiary education’s role in driving social mobility, levelling up opportunity, and improving productivity throughout the labour market will require responsiveness to employers’ skills needs.

Broad and balanced curriculum

But what skills do employers need? CBI’s latest Education and Skills Survey found that 44% of employers felt young people were leaving school, college or university were not work-ready. Whilst a definition for “work ready” can be difficult to pin down, employers agree that rounded curriculum that includes character, skills and knowledge is essential.

Creativity, resilience, and problem solving will become increasingly important to employers in the context of rapid technological change. Employers have an important responsibility to step up engagement with education providers, support curricula co-design and ensure these skills are embedded.

Technical Education Route

The CBI have long called for the creation of a high-quality technical route, that is of equal esteem and value to A levels. It is important that there are academic and technical routes into rewarding careers and T levels represent a golden opportunity to tackle skills gaps in key economic sectors.

However, in addition to occupationally specific competencies, technical education must support a core base of relevant transferable skills to set learners up for success in the labour market. Broad, diverse, and balanced curricula will also be key to supporting flexible routes, and clear progression pathways to both higher technical and academic education.

Demand for L4+ Skills

Indeed, clear progression routes through further and higher education will be vital to meeting employers increasing reliance on employees with higher skills. A recent CBI member survey revealed that 79% businesses expect to need more people with higher skills (Level 4) in the next three to five years. As lower-skilled tasks are automated, the labour market shift in favour of higher-skilled work will accelerate.

Fuelling Demand for More Level 4, 5 and 6 Qualifications

Presently, only 10% of UK adults hold a Level 4 or 5 at their highest qualification (OECD, 2014). To be clear, the source of this skills shortage is not too many young people attending university, but barriers to learners progressing from lower levels.

This “hourglass skills problem” creates challenges for employers to access the skills they need. For workers, it also stymies upward income mobility and greater employability in the labour market. The introduction of a simplified, high quality and employer-led offer at Level 4 and 5 can help remove these barriers.

New higher technical qualifications should therefore be promoted as a progression route from lower-level study, not an alternative to degrees.

A Reskilling Revolution

However, the clearest expression of the government’s ambition in designing a skills system aligned to economic need must be in their proposals for lifelong learning. With 80% of the 2030 workforce already in employment, and 30% of roles due to be affected by automation over the next ten years, the need for a bold vision on reskilling is clear.

The scale of the challenge should not be underestimated. Our upcoming report outlines that 9 in 10 workers will require some form of reskilling by 2030 at a cost of £130bn. Whilst businesses will deliver the majority of investment, adequate incentivisation will be key, particularly for SMEs who face unique barriers to investing in training.

Furthermore, government at all levels will need to redress the decline in public spending on adult learners and enable providers to offer flexible and shorter courses, more closely aligned with the labour market.


Collaboration between businesses, colleges and universities is essential to prevent pitting different parts of tertiary education against one another in this area. Together, businesses and providers can enhance opportunities for learners, coordinate the delivery of skills needs, and design a system aligned to demand.

A coalition between providers, business and government can capitalise on the opportunities presented by the fourth industrial revolution, drive social mobility, and boost productivity throughout the UK economy. The post-16 white paper can be a roadmap for this journey.

Three Reforms for the White Paper

  1. First, the post-16 white paper must facilitate the development of partnerships between business, further education and higher education to systemically align our education and skills strategy to the demands of the future economy.
  2. Second, the white paper should propose an expansion of higher technical education at Level 4-5 which is addition too and not in replace of numbers attending full-time Level 6 degrees at universities.
  3. And third, the white paper should outline how flexible provision and provider funding will support widespread reskilling across the labour market.

Alissa Dhaliwal, CBI

'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 10 minutes 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 20 minutes ago
FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 20 hours 25 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