From education to employment

One Thousand Articles On, and Stronger Than Ever, says Editor Jethro Marsh

FE News is still young, and still a growing organisation. Much as further education has grown in the public consciousness and in political importance, so has FE News grown in stature.

From the very beginning of our work, we have seen our mission as bringing FE out of the shadow of HE in media coverage, and changing the public perception and awareness of the FE sector. The course of the 1000 articles has certainly been littered with controversy and event, claim and counter claim, argument and riposte. The cut and thrust of debate and development has covered everything from pay to targets, from assessment success to merging inspectorates. But what has happened in the past one thousand articles?

The Road Much Travelled

The very first article that was ever given its voice on the site was a positive one, with the City of Bristol college recognised by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) West and awarded an award for excellence. The college was delighted to be given the award, and FE News was off and running!

The latest article to appear ““ just this morning ““ was the announcement of the five new members of the LSC’s Adult Learning Committee (ALC, who appointed two new members) and the Young People’s Learning Committee (YPLC, welcoming three new members). These committees advise the LSC national office in matters pertaining to adult and youth education, and have a clear impact on the national strategy. There is a certain symmetry to this, with the LSC prominent at both ends!

FE and Change

The FE environment has been a dynamic and changing one during this time, and looks set to remain that for the foreseeable future. Amongst the myriad issues, NATFHE, the University and College Lecturers” Union, will continue to campaign both for the honouring of the pay deals for FE College lecturers and for equal funding between FE and HE institutions. This will continue even after their proposed merger with the AUT. The Government have expressed their commitment to providing free Level 2 training, and basic skills training, to all, regardless of age, as they have to the importance of language learning for instance.

There remain questions regarding whether this is the most beneficial way to proceed; are level 2 qualifications what are needed for employers, for example? At a time when so many column inches are consumed with industry heads crying out for a better skilled and able workforce, claiming that many applicants for vacancies are simply not qualified or are lacking areas such as communication and interpersonal skills, should the Government be cutting adult education funding as they did in their last funding letter? Language skills are deemed vital, necessary for economic and industrial success; and yet modern languages are no longer compulsory at GCSE.

By the same token, should this be a surprise? There are a great many calls on the public purse, and the level of funding that was sustainable in times of wealth will of necessity become somewhat unpalatable for a Government at a time of economic slowdown. We may well be the fourth strongest economy in the world, but just as the Alps, economics tend to drive in an undulating fashion. Newton’s First Law could just as easily apply to public expenditure; to paraphrase, what goes up must, at some point, come down, unless the Government decide to bite the bullet and raise the dreaded “T” word!

New Year

Through all of this, FE News has remained strong and committed to the expansion of awareness of this often neglected sector. Whether you find a glass slipper for the “Cinderella Sector” or you look at a neglected “middle child” as Sir Andrew Foster does, FE has an enormous role to play, and there are thousands of people working hard to deliver the training and skills demanded to millions of learners at all stages of life. There is no alternative to a strong FE system in meeting both the skills challenge of the future and the issues of community strength and social inclusion, and I am proud to be part of the solution in bringing FE to the world’s attention.

The new year has just passed, and now the thousand mile mark has ticked over on the article ““ ometre. Join us at FE News in making the next thousand better than ever before! Perhaps those working or learning in the sector feel neglected; perhaps you feel that there is no ““ one who can provide you with a voice, a forum to express your hopes and fears? We are that voice, we are that forum; tell us what you think and feel, let us bring FE into the light! I know that there is so much great work being done on the frontline; contact us with your stories, and let us tell the world what FE can really achieve.

Further Education is one of the most important areas for the development of the nation. I am proud to be the Editor for FE News, and look forward to the next thousand articles. FE is an adventure; and I cannot wait to find out what lies just over the horizon!

Jethro Marsh

What do you see in the next thousand items? Tell us in the FE Blog

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