From education to employment

New alliance merging employers and educators is launched today

A new alliance merging employers and educators to deliver a workforce trained in skills needed by industry is being launched today.

The AoC and Skills For Business Network alliance will see employers, college principals and executives from the Association of Colleges, the Sector Skills Councils and the Sector Skills Development Agency join forces for the first time to design and deliver qualifications focused in specific industries.

The move is a response to the Leitch Review of Skills which called for the UK to commit to becoming a world leader in skills by 2020.It was published in December 2006 and placed great emphasis on “economically valuable skills” to improve UK productivity so firms could compete in a global market. It said that skills should be portable, demand-led, adaptable to future market needs, and based on existing, but simpler and less bureaucratic structures.

David Hunter, Chief Executive Officer of Lifelong Learning UK and chair of the new AoC/SfBn group welcomed the development.

He said: “For too long the supply and demand sides of the education and training system have worked in silos, but this alliance is determined to cut through the red-tape and rise to the challenge of delivering the Leitch vision.”

The agenda for the new alliance is certainly full ““ they aim to develop and promote flexible and bite-sized learning and full qualifications. They will also try to meet the needs of employers” learners and offer a flexible modular-based credit based system and adaptable qualifications framework.

They plan to work with employers and colleges to try to make it easier to get funding by cutting down on bureaucracy.

One of their first tasks will be to lobby MPs, ministers and sector agencies to invest in the action plan.

Mark Fisher, chief executive of the SSDA, said: “The Alliance is a much-needed step forward. The SSCs are uniquely placed to understand the needs of employers in their sectors and the FE colleges are central to meeting their demands.”

Dr John Brennan, AoC Chief Executive, said: “AoC is delighted to work with SSDA and SSCs to launch this new collaboration. We believe that this group will form the nucleus for a new, stronger working relationship between colleges and employers.”

“It is vitally important that colleges work closely with the Skills for Business Network to ensure that we deliver what employers need, so that the nation has the skills required to be competitive.”

Hardip Sidhu

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