The Association of Learning Providers (ALP), the body representing the independent providers and colleges providing work ““ based learning, has welcomed the publication of today’s Further Education White Paper.
The White Paper has taken up the challenges laid down in the Review of FE conducted by Sir Andrew Foster last year, and is calling for a more demand led, learner and employer focussed FE sector. The paper also announced that the crucial area that FE would be called upon to work within was the area of skills for work, meeting the yawning skills gaps that persist. The ALP have broadly supported the Government’s intentions in the White Paper, but believe that more needs to be done more swiftly in order to meet the emerging economic challenges from other nations with rapidly improving skill level.
The ALP have welcomed the White Paper’s support for introducing contestability into the funding mechanisms, which they feel is key to delivering a further education sector that meets the skills demands present. They also welcome the introduction of “Train to Gain”, which the Paper says will see “employers throughout the country will be benefiting from training delivered in the workplace, by a provider of their choosing, delivered to suit their operational needs” by 2008.
The ALP has also stated that they will be monitoring the implementation of the “brokerage system” by the LSC to ensure that it meets the demands of this project, rather than holding it back. They also believe that provision of adult skills education will be demand ““ led by the year 2015, and have welcomed the announcement by the Government that all 19 ““ 25 year olds are to be offered free training up to Level 3 (or A Level equivalent).
Besides these areas, the ALP have indicated their support for the introduction of adult learner accounts; the intention to make progress on a new framework for accrediting learning aimed at offering benefits to both the learner and the employer; the recognition that investment in capital by the central government may be required for training providers; and the introduction of five new diplomas in the 14-19 curriculum by 2013. On this last area, however, the ALP are seeking certain clarifications on the exact role for training providers in this.
Continuing in the Right Direction
Reacting to the White Paper’s publication, the Chief Executive of the ALP, Graham Hoyle, recognised the continuing nature of the progress being made by the Government, saying: “The white paper is a further step in a series of government reforms on skills provision that have been heading in the right direction for some time.”
He also stressed the danger inherent in the increasingly competitive global marketplace, saying: “However, we believe that the forces of global competition require a more urgent programme for action if skills gaps are to be closed. The Government needs therefore to be much bolder in opening up existing provision as well as new provision to new providers.”
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