From education to employment

More than just saving: Inventive ways to overcome the effects of cuts

As we are nearing September and the beginning of the autumn term which comes with it, Colleges nationwide are preparing to face a very different environment. The Coalition Government’s 40% cuts in funding are about to become a part of reality for Further Education Colleges. The need to adapt is being voiced again and again. This mix of achieving more for less is a necessity not just in the context of a squeeze on public funding, but is also part of the very business improvement models that colleges have been adopting over the years.

Being inventive and innovative has to be the way ahead for many colleges in order to reduce their dependence on the public purse whilst responding to the needs of their local businesses and communities. A new approach that was developed by the New Engineering Foundation and adopted by the Sheffield College is the Knowledge and Technology Transfer Competent College.

The college is using this approach to provide solutions to engineering, aviation and information technology companies in Sheffield to support their product development and innovation. The knowledge and experience gained from this college-business interaction is then used by learners and lecturers to improve the educational and training provision. This collaborative approach presents a win-win recipe for all parties.

Sa’ad Medhat, NEF’s CEO, said: “Bringing companies and colleges together using this approach has a potential of multiplying opportunities and reducing costs for partners. We are convinced that the model will be an example for many other colleges to follow.”

Henry Hui, Strategic Development Funding Manager, The Sheffield College, said: “Employer-led curriculum development can be very effective in meeting local skills needs. It is important to create more opportunities and help businesses survive the difficult economic times and grow.”

The project has received support from the Learning and Skill’s Improvement Service (LSIS) under their Flexibility and Innovation Fund. It aims to result in a framework for Knowledge and Technology Transfer competences and excellence that is transferable throughout the FE sector.

Innovating and building relationship with external partners is just another way of redefining own place in a changing world. It probably goes beyond most obvious measures that include primitive saving but is available to other colleges that are ready to look ahead and be inventive.

(Pictured: Sa’ad Medhat, chief executive of NEF)

Exclusive article supplied by the New Engineering Foundation, the independent charity that works with key partners and stakeholders to support the advancement of education

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