From education to employment

Select Committees report receives backing from the sector

The Education and Skills Select Committee report on Post 16 Skills has been broadly welcomed across the industry. It’s concern at the operation of the Train to Gain scheme and reservations about present adult guidance have been welcomed by those in the FE Sector.

Dr John Brennan, Association of Colleges Chief Executive welcomed the select committee report: “The report reflects many of the key college concerns about post-16 skills provision. It rightly focuses on the need to stimulate employer demand, as well as the importance of direct engagement between business and learning providers at a local level.

“It highlights the limitations of the Train to Gain scheme and current inefficiencies of the brokerage system, acknowledges the potential bureaucracy in assigning to Sector Skills Councils responsibility for qualifications approval and recognises the need to reduce duplication and overlap in the training system.

“The committee’s concerns about the future of adult and ESOL learning echo those of many AoC member colleges.

“The call for a shift in priority to encourage more provision at level three and four is both very welcome and an economic necessity. We strongly endorse the recommendation that the Innovation, Universities and Skills Committee continues this enquiry.”

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber agreed: “The Committee rightly calls for a more coherent skills system to give the workforce tailored training opportunities. The TUC applauds the central recommendation to give union learning representatives an even bigger role in supporting employees to navigate the training system.”

He continued: “The TUC’s learning and skills organisation, unionlearn, is dedicated to building the ability of these reps to help more workers gain skills, and it has recently launched a new learning and careers advice line for everyone involved in supporting learning in trade unions.

“The report also echoes the TUC’s belief in the importance of meeting the training needs of the most disadvantaged groups in the workforce, especially older workers, disabled learners and people requiring English language tuition.”

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union (UCU), said: “UCU welcomes the commitment of the government to developing the nations skills. However we have doubts about the emphasis on Train to Gain and about its implementation. We agree with the committee that colleges should be encouraged to develop their support for local business. Resources to do that are important and, as the committee points out, a more flexible way of targeting funds is needed.

“I welcome the concern expressed about reductions in adults learning and the calls for urgent reviews of how to develop enabling skills for older learners and of funding for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).”

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