From education to employment

Further Learning Group named leading Further Education and Vocational Education Provider at Education Investor Awards 2021

David Willett is the CEO of Further Learning Group

Pivoting multiple brands in the face of the pandemic

As we approach two years on from the UK’s coronavirus outbreak, the change that the virus has brought to businesses, whether good or bad, is well understood, and heavily discussed. 

One of the fortunate industries, given the opportunity to evolve and grow in the face of the pandemic, is the education sector. With the right approach, providers have been presented with a chance to expand in terms of customer base, territories and product offerings, at the same time as reducing overheads and increasing output. That is where providers have the right technology, of course.

But the pivot to delivering digital learning for the first time is not a straightforward one. Consumers of further education expect high service levels, as they should, and accessibility and flexibility of the delivery model cannot come at the cost of quality. 

At Further Learning Group, we have managed to weather the changes of the last 24 months  by prioritising learning and the student experience in our transition to 100% online learning, an effort that has been recognised in this year’s Education Investor Awards 2021, being named the leading Further Education and Vocational Education Provider. 

Judges acknowledged exemplary performance, despite the challenges of the last year, which can be attributed to delivering strong outcomes and engaging in a dialogue with students to determine the most effective delivery models. By maintaining regular contact with tutors, structured evaluation, and high-quality assessments, students can continue to thrive in adverse circumstances.

This industry commendation also takes into account the challenge faced in pivoting multiple brands at the same time. Further Learning Group, which counts the British Academy of Interior Design, British Academy of Garden Design, British Academy of Photography, British Academy of Fashion Design and British Academy of Digital Marketing among the brands it presides over, had the challenge of bringing multiple sub-brands along our journey of development and innovation. 

But how do providers begin to go about transitioning sub-brands to fit in with the new ways of working? Particularly those that operate with similar teaching models, in the same territories and provide equal accreditations across the board, but to serve disparate audiences, industries and student bodies?


The job can never be done for providers looking to adapt to the changing needs of students. Our research has shown that, despite furlough schemes coming to an end, and businesses reopening on the whole in the latter half of 2021, many adults still have their eyes on a change of career, with an ambition to study alongside their existing commitments. But providers face a different environment in which to deliver learning once again, as hybrid working remains the norm, and COVID case numbers continue to rocket. Taking advantage of technology will allow providers to continue to meet the needs of their students across various sub-brands, and remain effective in delivering training that employers are seeking in the current economic climate.


Treating sub-brands in silos of one another risks losing valuable learnings and insights that could be applied to other businesses. Knowledge is power and, particularly in competitive industries such as education, taking on board learnings and applying them across every corner of the business only strengthens your case for prospective customers. While each academy under the Further Learning Group umbrella thrives on its specialist tutors, and industry-leading expertise, having a joined-up administration underlying each sub-brand allows us to remain competitive. 


In a service-led industry, such as education, communicating with students, staff and stakeholders is key. Working across numerous fields, and under different brands, having a cohesive communications strategy allows Further Learning Group to navigate change with little disruption for the end consumer. Having the right platform to retain regular contact with individuals at every level and stage of a business ensures that no stakeholder or sub-brand is left behind as the business continues to transition and grow on a more macro level.

David Willett, CEO at Further Learning Group

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