From education to employment

FE White Paper on Sector Reform Welcomed by Steve Palmer

The recent FE White Paper outlines a series of initiatives that will transform the life chances of young people and of the skills of the workforce. And Steve Palmer, executive director of the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) in Lancashire, is welcoming the new Further Education Reform White Paper as a significant step towards driving up the economic prosperity in Lancashire.

He also reckons that the paper offers “a once in a generation opportunity to challenge the traditional stereotype of vocational training being “second-best”, and to demonstrate the economic and social rewards it brings.”

LSC Impacts

Specific elements which impact on the LSC include having a new economic mission in Further Education, which is to equip young people and adults with the skills for productive and rewarding employment in a modern economy. Another is that providers will be encouraged to specialise in order to supply world class services with world class facilities and over time all providers are expected to develop distinctive specialist excellence.

Thirdly, learners and employers will have a greater say in the provision of education and training, including more choice and the means to make the most of these opportunities. In addition, providers will be challenged to demonstrate their responsiveness to employer and learner needs. There will also be programmes to tackle some of the issues facing Women in Work as identified by the Women and Work Commission.

Performance Priority

There will be new freedoms for high performing colleges coupled with tougher and speedier intervention to combat poor performance with new powers for the LSC. The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) and the LSC are being transformed to allow the realignment of funds to front line programmes. This step is intended to reduce bureaucracy.

The Paper also intends to increase contestability by providing opportunities for new high quality providers to enter the system to bring innovation and drive up quality. And finally, it plans to increase the accessibility of education for learners of all backgrounds and make the playing field a level one regarding the capital funding available to schools and colleges.

Steve Palmer said: “Further education changes lives. This White Paper takes on board the principles of the LSC’s agenda for change and heralds a real shift in the way FE is delivered. It will open up the market and allow excellent provision to be rewarded and poor provision to be cut out. This is good news for local individuals and employers, for communities and the economy.”

Sudakshina Mukherjee

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