From education to employment

New research highlights positive impact of utilising FE

57% of companies polled for a government survey do not use the further education sector to train their employees.

Further, 82% did not associate FE with vocational training.

New research commission by the Learning and Skills Council has revealed that the further education (FE) sector is “missing out on opportunities to engage with business because the majority of employers are unaware of what the sector has to offer”.

The YouGov research however, which examined the training policies of nearly 900 companies, also found that nearly 90% of employers that have used FE training reported a positive impact on their business, including increased productivity, turnover, employee motivation and job satisfaction.

87% of small businesses said using an FE college to train its employees had benefited the company, with over half (58%) saying that it had boosted employee motivation and job satisfaction and 47 per cent believing it had helped employee retention.

Bill Rammell, Higher and Further Education Minister said: “The findings clearly highlight the competitive benefits to employers of using further education training. Since 1997, FE funding has increased by £2.5 billion, a rise of 48% in real terms. The challenge for FE providers is to engage with business so they make best use of this, and be aware of the choice, value, and relevance of training on offer. Providers must adapt to meet the needs of employers”.

He added: “With our sweeping reform of FE, colleges and providers now have a clear “demand-led” economic focus to meet employers training needs. Responding to the Leitch report we called on employers last week to sign a Skills Pledge to make use of the provision available to train all eligible staff to at least Level 2, the equivalent of 5 GCSEs*, the platform of skills for employability and competitiveness”.

The findings are reinforced by new research that explored employers” attitudes to Train to Gain, the service that can help businesses improve their productivity and competitiveness by ensuring that staff have the right skills to do the best job. The research, by Synovate, found half of all employers polled were unaware that the Train to Gain Skills Brokerage Service is free. However, 82% of respondents would trust the brokerage service to provide realistic and actionable advice.

Ray Dowd, agenda for change Champion at the LSC furthered this, explaining: “FE colleges need to get more businesses to take advantage of the training they provide and that means closer relationships and clearer marketing. Colleges need to continue to get better at speaking the language of business and that includes talking about how training increases productivity and profitability as well as giving learners a qualification”.

“It seems that those companies that are aware of the range of courses available are securing a competitive advantage over those that do not use FE colleges by getting free or low cost training that benefits their business through increased productivity, profitability and employee satisfaction”.

Natalie Cheers.

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