Further Education providers must take the lead in adapting their courses to meet employers’ needs, says Skills Minister John Hayes.
Speaking to FE News after his speech at the Association for Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) conference today, he said that training groups now have “more freedoms … to be responsive, dynamic, in dealing with economic change and workforce needs.”
And days earlier in a speech in Rugby, Warwickshire, he told FE lecturers that the “skills revolution … could not be “led from above.”
“It needs the active involvement of you and your learners as well,” he said.
“You are the experts on how to train people. But you, too, must become more open to the views of learners and employers about how you could do that differently – better.”
According to Mr Hayes, the government is freeing providers from “a whole raft of pointless rules and regulations”.
“In return I expect you to transform the look and content of your provision,” he said.
“I want you to step up, to take advantage of the freedoms, and think laterally and creatively about the offer you provide.”
His emphasis on providing employer-focused skills is a welcome shift from the government, said AELP chairman Martin Dunford.
“The government, at last, even the skills policy, talks about unemployed people and employability quite a lot,” Mr Dunford told FE News.
“The Work Programme is about sustainable employability, which is good, and for a lot of people that means acquiring skills and developing their skills over a period of time.”
The AELP announced today its own rebranding to include the word ’employment’ in its title, reflecting its commitment to matching skills training with available jobs.
“A lot of people have said that [the rebranding ] is very timely,” said Dunford.
Hayes added to FE News that he was pleased with the progress made in further education since he took office last year.
He continued: “Last year I said that we were on the birth of a revolution in respect of skills and further education and practical learning. Today I was able to say that we were harvesting the first fruits of their (FE providers’) labours and our changes.
“What does that mean in practice? It means more apprentices than Britain has ever seen before. It means learning more expansive to learner choice and employer needs.”
Hayes’ conference speech comes nearly eight months after the launch of his Skills for Sustainable Growth Strategy, whose promises include more funding for FE, vocational qualifications and adult Apprenticeships.
(Pictured: Skills Minister John Hayes)