From education to employment

Colleges are adapting to benefit the unemployed, says AoC report

Colleges across England are providing, on average, over 1000 unemployed people a year with training to assist them in gaining skills and qualifications for the workplace.

Revealed in a study published yesterday by the Association of Colleges, the ‘Back to Work: Colleges Supporting Sustainable Jobs’ report identified that colleges are changing what they offer in order to meet the needs of jobseekers, with 95% of colleges offering provision for the unemployed.

The report showed that 64% of colleges have responded to increasing unemployment rates by altering their provisions, which has been aided by the Government’s relaxation of a number of rules and regulations in August 2011.

The resourcefulness of colleges has meant that 220,000 unemployed people have gained access to work-related education and skills at colleges across England annually.

Speaking in response to the report, launched yesterday, Skills Minister John Hayes said: ?“I am proud of the indispensible role colleges play in giving people the skills and confidence they need to get work and build careers.”

He added: “We trust local providers to understand and meet the needs of their communities; that’s why we’ve reduced bureaucratic controls over how colleges spend their budgets.”

The study also highlighted the crucial relationship between colleges and Job Centre Plus in ensuring that the maximum number of unemployed people possible return to the workplace.

In terms of the current relationship between the two, the report revealed that 89% of colleges rated themselves as having either an excellent or good relationship with JCP. Despite this there is still some disparity in terms of the actual number of people being referred to local colleges by JCP.

Hayes said that he would now like to see more colleges working with local partners like JCP to help build on the work that is already being done to deliver the support structures that unemployed people and prospective employers need.

Association of Colleges chief executive Martin Doel said: “Colleges are integral to the local communities they serve and are well-placed to provide responsive programmes to help people into employment.

“Our members are showing real flexibility and initiative in this area and their links with employers and JCP mean that those candidates they put forward for jobs are ready for work.

“Not only are they providing people with the skills they need, but they are helping increase their confidence with personal advice and tailored support.”

A copy of the full report can be downloaded here:

Linsey Humphries

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