From education to employment

FE News speaks to David Collins about his new appointment as the AoCs inaugural president.

Dr David Collins, Principal of South Cheshire College, was elected as the first president of the AoC last week. The creation of a presidential role was recommended in the Association’s Strategic Review published in June 2007 to represent the interests of colleges at the highest levels of Government and influence policy making.

Dr Collins explained to FE News that he looks forward to working with the Association’s new chief executive, Martin Doel: “We will be working in close partnership on policy with the chief executive more concerned with running the AoC while my role will be more outward facing.”

The post of president is intended to be filled by a serving principal and Dr Collins will continue in his job at South Cheshire College, whilst carrying out his duties as president on a half-time basis.

His first priority will be to ensure there is a wider engagement of members. He says: “We have a tremendous level of talent on board and I want to make sure everyone has a say. In the past there has perhaps been less involvement than there could have been. It is important we recognise the breadth of expertise amongst our members when it comes to speaking with Government ministers on policy. We are currently sending out a checklist to all the colleges in the Association to find out who knows what, and where different areas of expertise lie.”

Dr Collins is also keen to address the impression that colleges operate independently of business. “Most colleges have a tremendous amount of collaboration with their local workforce, supplying skills, and although this is recognised locally, a different impression is often painted in the national press and I would like to change that. Colleges do already work closely with employers but we need to improve that image.

“I see a dynamic future for FE colleges. We will continue to lead on the skills agenda but of course we are also heavily involved in other aspects of education – working closely with schools on the 14-19 agenda and with Higher Education in terms of foundation courses.”

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