@AoC_info Letter to new Education Recovery Commissioner calls for task group to combat lost learning
Chief Executive of Association of Colleges, David Hughes has written to the newly appointed Education Recovery Minister Sir Kevan Collins about the impending consequences of lost learning and training on children and young people.
AoC is particularly concerned about the challenges facing students who will not progress onto higher level or HE courses at the end of this academic year, who will face a tough labour market with few job opportunities open to them.
The letter proposes a task and finish group could support the Commissioner to focus on this group, mitigating and responding to their lost learning in colleges, and helping with their transitions into jobs. The group would be supported by employers and colleges and would bring coherence to a range of government programmes to help this generation not become the lost generation.
The proposed group would:
• focus on mitigating and responding to lost learning in colleges, transitions across different stages of learning, and crucially transitions into the labour market.
• bring together organisations such as AoC, employer organisations, other stakeholders alongside relevant government departments, to work with the Commissioner to mitigate against the impact that lost learning will have on children and young people.
• bring coherence and help deliver better short and longer term outcomes.
The full letter:
Congratulations on your appointment as Education Recovery Commissioner. I look forward to working with you and supporting your work on lost learning; it is an important and urgent priority for colleges and for the 650,000 people who study in them.
It’s clear that the pandemic has affected every one of us, including every child and young person. However, I believe that there are some groups for whom the impact will be more profound and potentially longer lasting. Your remit will encompass all of those continuing in learning after this academic year and reflect the varying circumstances and experiences. I am sure that you will be aware how important it is to focus energy on those who have had particular challenges during lockdowns such as those without access to digital devices and the internet, those with mental health conditions and those who have suffered loss or have been subject to the virus themselves.
I want to urge you though, to also focus on young people leaving education this year. Large numbers of school and college leavers this summer will successfully progress in learning onto higher level and HE courses. Many though will not. Traditionally the latter would progress into apprenticeships or into jobs. Sadly, this year those opportunities will be few and far between and most forecasts are for a large increase in youth unemployment. Because of lost learning and shifts in the labour market, many of this cohort will struggle to access jobs in potential growth sectors without further training.
History shows us that young people who suffer long periods of unemployment in a recession can be held back throughout their lives. My worry is that because of lost learning, this year’s leavers are even more likely to suffer unless we act now and over the coming couple of years. There are programmes funded to support, but they lack coherence and as they stand are unlikely to work for large numbers of those who have particularly suffered from lost learning.
Given this challenge, and because it includes a very different group of organisations from your other main focus of those continuing in education, I wanted to propose the establishment of a youth skills recovery task and finish group to work on this area. The group would need to be able to look at both lost learning and the wider labour market context. I am confident that other stakeholders, including employer organisations, would be happy to contribute to this given the implications for employers and workforce needs in key sectors of the economy.
I look forward to discussing this proposal with you in more detail.
David Hughes, Chief Executive, Association of Colleges