From education to employment

FE’s Election Crossroads: Unlock or Look Out? FE Soundbite Edition 752

FE's Election Crossroads: Unlock or Look Out? FE Soundbite Edition 752

Welcome to FE Soundbite Edition 752, June 29th, 2024: Unlocking Potential or Locking Out Progress?

This is the weekly e-newsletter and e-journal by FE News: ISSN 2732-4095. We know life is busy, so here is a snapshot of the latest announcements and epic thought leadership articles, from sector influencers and cool thinkers across FE and Skills this week on FE News

Gavin’s Reflective Perspective

Celebrating the FE, Skills and Employability sector

Loads of awards and celebrations this week, which is brilliant to celebrate the sector achievements. I loved being a part of the judging process for the Aspiration Awards, we are sharing the individual story of each winner (one per day this week and next). So check that out.

Also congrats to all of the winners and finalists at The Quality Professionals Awards 2024 Winners Revealed. Also Quality job by team Mesma (did you see what I did there)? … and it was AELP’s annual sweltering conference in Hammersmith this week.

Election Fever and Sector Crossroads: A Week of Anticipation

With the general election just days away, there’s a sense of anticipation in the air. The FE and skills sector stands at a crucial juncture, and the outcome of next week’s vote could significantly shape our landscape for years to come. So vote people! It’s kinda important!

Loads of reports also coming out at the moment, aimed at the current and future politicians… but I do wonder if the people who these are aimed at (the current or wannabe MPs) have read them… or are they too busy pounding the pavement, shoving glossy flyers through our letterboxes, desperate for our X in the ballot box? If you need a final roundup of the political party promises, here is a handy article from Michael Lemin sharing some of his insights.

Pleased about the Careers Advice Tweak

I am really pleased that Labour appeared to add a ‘tweak’ pre election day… on Careers Advice and work experience. They’ve mentioned schools and colleges… which is great, but let’s think bigger!

What we really need is an all-age Careers Advice and Guidance service. Why? Well:

  • We change careers loads of times in our working lives
  • We’re in the early stages of the 4th industrial revolution
  • UK productivity is… let’s face it, not great

People need support with their choices and options. It’s not just about helping youngsters pick courses. We need to support:

  • Career changers
  • Returners to work
  • The ‘economically inactive’ to get active again
  • And encourage lifelong learning for everyone!

So, we’re talking beyond schools and colleges. We need this for ITPs, Unis, Apprenticeships – the whole shebang!

Here’s a teaser: Next week, we’re sharing an award winner’s story from the Aspiration Awards. It’s about how a Skills Bootcamp literally transformed someone’s life. Stay tuned for that one!

Local v Global Skills

So it is encouraging to see more talk of LSIPs. Gatsby have an interesting report out on Local Skills Improvement Plans and great unpacking article by Charlotte Ravenscroft unpacking the need and priority to meet Net Zero with skills development for Retrofitting buildings. To meet Net Zero, there is a definite Green Skills Need. Particularly when Gatsby highlight this will be national strategy to prepare 250k-500k workers.. that is a lot of people. Nationally and how that relates locally.

Outside of local skills needs, we are also in a global skills economy. This brings in AoC’s International Student survey. In 2022/23, the average college international income (excluding overseas campus operations) was £800,000, while it was £614,000 in 2021/22.* Which is interesting! How can we encourage more? With the Careers advice and guidance. How can we encourage global skills needs that are in demand, and reflect this into local skills needs at the same time?

My fav this week

Now I don’t want to have a fave.. but the article that resonated for me was David Breakspear’s insider view of prison education.. overcoming and highlighting areas, particularly in Neurodiversity that we need to address… as this affects people.. it could mean the difference of breaking the prison cycle, or someone not going into prison in the first place! Let’s give people positive options! I also loved the Aspiration Awards and I hope you do too! In nearly 21 years of attending awards, judging, seeing the winners, not once have I cried, these Aspiration Awards I did!

Exclusive Thought Leadership

Our Top 3 Thought Leadership Articles This Week

Employability: What it is, what it is not, and what really matters in both FE and HE? By Dr Doug Cole, Managing Director, Education for Employability argues for a holistic approach to employability in education, emphasising personal qualities and lifelong learning over just job-specific skills.

Education – An inside view By David Breakspear, Prison reform campaigner highlights the transformative power of education in prisons, advocating for better support for neurodivergent individuals and emphasising education’s role in reducing reoffending.

General Election 2024: Lots of Unknowns, but Glimmers of Hope By Michael Lemin, Head of Policy at NCFE analyses political parties’ education promises ahead of the UK election, discussing potential reforms while noting gaps in addressing key issues like educator retention and child poverty.

This Week, We Have Also Had Some Other Epic Exclusives!

Beyond Promises: The Importance of Youth Work in Post-Election Policies By Jacob Diggle, chief impact officer at UK Youth

Ready for Retrofit? What new ministers can learn from the 2023 LSIPs By Charlotte Ravenscroft, Non-Executive Director, Charity Bank and Author ofReady For Retrofit? An Analysis Of Local Skills Improvement Plans In England

Pride and Progress: Social Inclusion in Further Education and Skills By Dr Ann Limb, (a bit of a list of her ‘hats’) former Principal within Further Education (FE) colleges, founder of the Helena Kennedy Foundation, current Pro Chancellor of the University of Surrey, Chair of the City & Guilds of London Institute, Chair of Governors of The Manchester College and Chair of the Lifelong Education Institute and Dr Katerina Kolyva, CEO of the Education and Training Foundation (ETF)

The pandemic reawakened our love for learning – now AI can open even more doors By Mel Nicholson, Managing Director, MOL and Total People and Emily Jones, Deputy Director of Learning and Work Institute

What’s New in the World of FE?

Government Pledges

Labour’s Pledge to Boost Work Experience and Careers Advice – Sector Reaction By Labour

  • Labour plans to provide two weeks of quality work experience for every young person
  • Aims to recruit over 1,000 new careers advisors
  • Seeks to address inadequate career guidance and rising youth unemployment

Conferences and Awards

NCFE Aspiration Awards 2024 celebrate inspiring learners and educators By NCFE

  • Honours outstanding achievements in further education and employability
  • Winners across various categories, from rising stars to quality improvement initiatives
  • Highlights success stories of learners overcoming challenges

The Quality Professionals Awards 2024 Winners Revealed By Mesma

  • First year of the awards, with 11 winners across 9 categories
  • Recognises quality and compliance professionals in further education and employability
  • 53 finalists represented organisations across the UK

AELP National Conference 2024: shaping the future of the skills system on the eve of July’s General Election By AELP

  • Focus on the forthcoming General Election and its impact on the skills sector
  • Introduction of mini-commissions to deliver evidence-backed policy advice
  • Discussions on reducing regulatory burdens on providers


Gatsby Report: LSIPs Crucial for Next Government’s Decarbonisation Plans By Gatsby Charitable Foundation

  • Examines how local skills improvement plans prepare for home retrofitting skills
  • Finds significant regional differences in readiness for net-zero targets
  • Highlights the need for better coordination across government on skills investment

AoC Report: Colleges See International Activity Rebound, but Challenges Remain By AoC

  • International activity in colleges stabilising after the pandemic and Brexit
  • Average college international income increased from the previous year
  • Challenges include staffing capacity and student visa regulations


OneFile appoints Davinder Aujla as Managing Director By OneFile

  • Davinder Aujla takes over from Sue Thexton as Managing Director


Full Speed Ahead for University Clearing: Application Gateway By Adam Arkley, Director of Development, Codiance 

  • Discusses challenges of managing high traffic during university clearing days
  • Explains why traditional load-balancing solutions are inadequate for large university websites
  • Describes a robust solution using Application Gateway and multiple servers

Can we Bridge the Hydrogen Skills Gap? By Hydrogen Safe

  • Highlights the need for industry to champion change in hydrogen adoption
  • Emphasises the importance of developing a skills matrix for hydrogen-related roles
  • Calls for collaboration between education, industry, and government to meet sector needs

A New Era for Ofsted: What Training Providers Should Expect By OneFile

  • New Chief Inspector Martyn Oliver initiates reset approach at Ofsted
  • Changes include new inspection protocols and post-reporting processes
  • ‘The Big Listen’ initiative aims to gather feedback from the sector

Matthew McGrotty, Aspiration Award Learner of the Year, shares his story after winning Award By NCFE

  • 21-year-old travel and tourism learner with high-functioning autism wins national award
  • Completed successful placement with Translink, gaining valuable industry experience
  • Active in Youth Council and volunteer work, while excelling academically

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By Danny O’Meara, Digital Project Manager, FE News

By Gavin O’Meara, CEO & Founder, FE News & FE Careers (a new FE Careers is coming soon)!

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