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AoC and NIACE Talk to FE News about the LSC Announcement of Streamlining Approach

Today, all the talk in the Further Education sector revolved around the announcement from the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) that it is to slash some 1,300 jobs in a £40 million programme to streamline their service.

The announcement comes at the end of the week of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) Annual Congress in Brighton, and will see almost a third of the workforce at the LSC let go, including hundreds at their central office in Coventry. The LSC themselves see this as a “major transformation programme that will make it a smaller, more dynamic and a more customer facing organisation.”

Their Director of Strategy and Communications, Rob Wye, calls this a “strategic approach” and believes that colleges will benefit from the “lighter touch” approach that this augers. Mark Haysom, the Chief Executive of the LSC, said that this was “a fantastic opportunity to make a real difference for learners, employers and communities.” But what does the Association of Colleges (AoC) have to say? Do they believe this will benefit the FE sector?

Streamlining for the Agenda for Change

Dr John Brennan, Chief Executive of the AoC, said: “The AoC has been calling for some time for a more streamlined and focused approach to the management of the further education sector. Accordingly we welcome the further steps now proposed by LSC to move away from detailed involvement in the day to day management of colleges towards a more strategic approach, in line with the Agenda for Change.”

This echoed the statement from Mark Haysom, who also viewed this initiative as part of the programme Agenda for Change which he made clear when he said: “Part of Agenda for Change is about the LSC changing too.” Dr. Brennan recognised the difficulties that would be faced by the staff, but believed that these were necessary for the good of the sector. He said: “We recognise that implementation of these changes will be a difficult process for the LSC and its staff, but we believe it essential in order to release resources to the front line to maximise the benefits for learners.”

The Senior Policy Officer at the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE), Alastair Thomson, agreed, but expressed the need for the funding to be diverted straight away to frontline services. He said: “We hope that this will mean more money for direct provision for learners. It is learners rather than providers who should be the priority. However we are concerned for staff who may lose their jobs.”

Jethro Marsh

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