From education to employment

Lawrence Miles, Chief Officer, IVA voices his thoughts on the FE policies recently published on FE

Bill Rammell, (Minister of State for Lifelong Learning) believes that young people will be well prepared for Life and Work through the Government’s 14-19 reforms i.e. “net some components, bag a Diploma.” The majority of young people don”t want to stay on at school. Disaffected young people in school are not disaffected with Life or Work they are fed up with School. They are very likely to be more motivated in the world of work rather than school examination factories. Raising the school leaving age has never had a measurable effect on standards but Government policy has got something to do with the seven million functionally illiterate adults in the UK.

FE is not a school substitute. Learners in FE don”t, in the main, feel they are demeaned in the way confused adolescents and those from ineffective families do in schools. Learners in FE can expect to experience an adult learning world linked to the adult world of work

Bill Rammell wheeled out the Framework for Excellence and the National Improvement Strategy (the ties that bind). Vocational training does not need to become more academic to create the Gold Standard. A true Gold Standard for vocational learning, as John Hayes (Tory Shadow Minister for Vocational Learning) suggests, would have the sector’s backing and would be able to draw young people away from lightweight A levels in Media Watching and degrees in Peace Studies that lead to no known employment opportunity.

Bill’s talk of “more self-regulating” is not the self-regulation FE requires to flower; Self Regulation is the answer. John Hayes, identified “Byzantine bureaucracy” as the thing that needs to be cut in conjunction with letting more of the FE and Training budget get to the front line.

Bill talked up Train to Gain at his party conference, the initiative that invented the Skills Broker. Even John had to admit it was half a good idea but claimed that 70% of T2G learners had been recruited elsewhere, typically by, you”ve guessed it, the local FE college.

Sarah Teather (Lib Dem Shadow Secretary of State for Innovations, Universities and Skills) and John Hayes were spot on with their observations on Adult and Community Education applauding the enormous contribution made. Sarah gave example after example of how lives had been changed for the better as a result of access and entry level provision.

In fact readers probably don”t need such examples; they are all about us. We will all have close family members or near neighbours who have had that positive experience. Sarah wondered whether the enormous cuts in Adult Ed that saved £150 million had in fact a greater associated cost. Greater Adult Ed spending could be linked to reductions in incapacity benefit claims and the cost of treating ill health as well as extensions to individuals” working lives by participation in leisure, recreation and access to basic re-skilling programmes.

Lawrence Miles, Chief Officer, IVA

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