From education to employment

In Conversation with Steve Palmer, Executive Director of the Learning and Skills Counci

Further Education is growing. More and more people both rely on it for their education and training, and for their employment as trainers, instructors, administrators. With this series, Further Education Talks Back, we hope to give the thoughts and opinions of the people actually working on the front line of Further Education the attention they deserve.

In this light, FE News is delighted to welcome Steve Palmer, the Executive Director of the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) in Lancashire, to share his experiences in the sector and his belief in the role that FE plays in social inclusion.

Question: “How did you come to be in your current position?”

Steve: “I ran Enterprise Cumbria for 10 years prior to the LSC being set up. Enterprise Cumbria was the Training and Enterprise Council (TEC)/Business Link for Cumbria. The LSC was a radical evolution of what TECs were trying to do so it seemed a logical and fascinating progression for me. I applied for the job and was delighted to get it.”

Question: “What first fascinated you about the FE sector?”

Steve: “From the word go I have seen colleges as being positioned where the Governments social inclusion agenda meets its business development agenda. England’s 400 colleges are a superb resource for skilling individuals, strengthening communities and boosting employers” productivity. They provide excellent value for money and, in my personal view, the Government could make greater use of them.”

Question: “How has the sector changed in the time you have worked within it?”

Steve: “There is more specialisation and collaboration between colleges. This is a welcome development as there is a lot of unmet need. Colleges are increasingly trying to grow the overall market rather than compete for their segment of it.”

Question: “What is your fondest/proudest memory or experience from your time in FE?”

Steve: “Pruning our network of 45 Work Based Learning Providers (WBL) down from 45 to 25. This has given Lancashire a leaner and fitter group of providers who have helped us build a WBL offer that is perhaps the best in England for quality, value and relevance for young people and employers alike. Colleges deliver 35% of our WBL provision ““ none of them lost their contracts.”

Question: “If you had to change one thing in FE, what would it be, and why?”

Steve: “Its reputation with opinion formers, employers and the media. FE is unfairly under-rated.”

Question: “What do you see in the future, both for yourself and for the FE sector?”

Steve: “The inspection results of Lancashire’s 13 colleges show them to be very strong. We will work with them to help them extend their influence and build their reputation by substantially increasing their resources from meeting employer’s needs.”

We at FE News would like to thank Mr. Palmer for his cooperation in this, and wish him all the best for his future endeavours. We share his belief in the role that FE plays in furthering social inclusion. Also, as a media organisation dedicated to changing the public perception of Further Education, we echo his thoughts on the sector’s image and look forward to having a positive impact on the public’s perspective.

Jethro Marsh

Talk back too in the FE Blog

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