From education to employment

Chief Executive of Association of Learning Providers speaks to FE News about his Christmas wish list

What for you has been the most welcome development or announcement affecting FE and WBL in 2007?

The Government’s redesign of Train to Gain has the potential to transform this flagship programme for employers into a very effective tool in the demand-led strategy to achieve Lord Leitch’s aspirations for skills. ALP is pleased that ministers have listened to providers” concerns about barriers to successful delivery, such as rigidly precluding all workers from the programme who already had a Level 2 qualification and not allowing stand alone Skills for Life support. There are still issues to resolve across the different LSC regions, but together with the proposals in the Leitch Implementation Plan, we are seeing clear evidence of a strategy emerging that should make a real difference. Related to this, the closer integration of skills and employment policy has been another major positive feature of 2007.

And the worst?

ALP is a strong supporter of the direction of travel that the Government is adopting towards employment and skills. An important aspect of DWP and DIUS policy is that the supply markets should be open and contestable for any good quality provider from the public, private or voluntary sectors. It was therefore disappointing to hear opponents of contestability during 2007 put forward the completely bogus argument that private training companies are only interested in the “low hanging fruit”. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, it was ALP that successfully led the lobbying for changes to the Educational Maintenance Allowance scheme that was effectively disqualifying disadvantaged young people from starting an Entry to Employment programme because they didn”t have a parent or guardian around to sign a means-test application form.

What would be on your Christmas wish list for FE?

We would like to see the moves towards self-regulation for the sector become cemented into real ownership by providers of key elements of the employment and skills framework, such as quality assurance. ALP also looks forward to the new Commission for Employment and Skills under Chris Humphries becoming a strong force behind the integration of skills and employment policy and delivery.

What will your new year resolutions be?

I will endeavour to do my bit for climate change by cutting down my car mileage to attend meetings. Of course, if self-regulation and the integration of skills and employment continue to progress in the right direction, I may need to go to less of them!

Graham Hoyle, chief executive of the Association of Learning Providers

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