From education to employment

Colleges need a more collaborative environment to thrive, report says

The Association of Colleges has today published a FE Provider Strategy and Mandate which builds on the College of the Future report published in 2020.

The analysis underscores the need for an integrated tertiary system, one which is collaborative not competitive, with simplified funding and accountability, and a triple mandate for people, productivity and place.

This report was commissioned to explore the distinctive role of English colleges in the newly developing skills landscape arising post-pandemic and Brexit and against a backdrop of high inflation.

Investment in skills will support economic growth and social recovery both in the short-term as well as over a longer period. It is also clear that such investment needs to demonstrate excellent value for money to compete for the limited resources available to the government to fund solutions to the challenges. As evidenced in the report,  colleges are readily positioned to meet these needs.

In order to do this, it is important that there is a wider understanding of the role and contribution of colleges and of the benefits of a systems approach rather than a marketplace within the FE and skills sector.

A series of key recommendations for a college mandate and a provider management strategy has been developed through a review of international literature about how colleges and other providers are managed in different skills systems, especially in the context of recent system reforms, a quantitative review of providers in three sub-sectors: apprenticeships, adult education and higher technical education and a series of stakeholder interviews.

David Hughes, AoC Chief Executive said:

This report is aimed at informing the debate we need to have and adds to a growing evidence and research base that we and partners are building. It highlights international examples – with new international analysis and case studies – drawing on global best practice in the skills sector and translating that into the English context.

“This is an agenda that the FE sector stands ready to deliver through a wider lifelong learning strategy. Ultimately, we would want to see this lead onto a new sense of direction and identity for the FE sector, and consideration of a national brand for FE.”

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