The launch of the Government's new Skills for Jobs White Paper offers an important opportunity to create an ambitious future vision for colleges, students and employers across the UK, hopefully to deliver a more sustainable and prosperous economy.
The Confederation of British Industry has anticipated that 9 out of 10 employees in the workforce in the next ten years will require upskilling, with many jobs requiring training that can take from one to over three years to complete. Future priorities for colleges are now critical so it is significant they are starting to be recognised by the government as just as important as universities for delivering higher level post-16 technical skills.
The government's wish to put an end to the increasing thought amongst many parents and their children that a university degree is the only route to success, and an apprenticeship with further education is a second-class option, appears to be at the heart of this paper. This alongside the new Lifetime Skills Guarantee scheme which will allow adults without an A-level or equivalent to benefit from fully funded courses are key to providing individuals with the training they need to get a well-paid and secure job.
It is also encouraging to see the paper highlight employers as having a central role working with further education colleges, other providers, and local stakeholders to develop the skills needed at a local level. As an employer of apprentices in Construction, Housing and Civil Engineering this has always been central to our way of operating, and it needs to be widened out so that local labour market skills gaps can be accurately planned for and met.
If the detail is in the paper and delivery is done well, the recognition of what employers require could enable colleges and employers like EN:Able Futures to act as strategic partners that allow people to transition into growing areas of employment, and support long term career progression.
The key test to this vision is how well will it work in practice... I wait with anticipation.
Julie Deeley, Director of Operations, EN:Able Futures