Telford College has welcomed the Government’s latest proposals to reshape the delivery of post-16 education – saying it is already ‘ahead of the game’ with many of the changes being proposed.
The much-anticipated Skills for Jobs FE White Paper was published this morning, setting out new funding and accountability structures for colleges and training providers.
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A cornerstone of the paper is a need for colleges and FE providers to work more closely with business organisations to shape a curriculum which meets the needs of the local economy.
Telford College principal Graham Guest said: “We are delighted that the Government is seeking to boost the status of vocational education, with a clear message that a university degree isn’t the only route to success.
“Further education, and technical education, has never been a second-class option in our view – in fact, in these changing times, we feel it has never been more important.
“There is a clear focus on the pivotal role that further and technical education has in helping people get skills for good jobs now and in the future.”
The white paper lays out a series of measures, including a need for business groups to work alongside colleges to develop skills plans which meet local training needs.
It proposes giving employers a central role in designing almost all technical courses by 2030, ensuring education and training is linked to skills needed by local businesses.
The paper also wants to boost the quality and uptake of higher technical qualifications by introducing newly approved qualifications from September 2022.
Ministers want to change the law so that from 2025 people can access flexible student finance to train and retrain throughout their lives.
And they propose launching a nationwide recruitment campaign to attract more talented individuals to teach in the FE sector.
Mr Guest said: “Ever since the creation of Telford College in 2017, we have been making a
concerted effort to work as closely as possible with the Shropshire business community.
“We are a key member of the Telford Business Board, a patron of Shropshire Chamber, and are collaborating with the likes of Telford & Wrekin Council, and the University of Wolverhampton, on many projects.
“These include the exciting new Station Quarter in Telford town centre, where we will be setting up a new maths and digital hub.
“This ticks another of the white paper’s boxes to create a new network of college business centres, with entrepreneurialism and technology-led innovation at the forefront.”
He added: “Overall, we are very encouraged by these proposals, which will certainly not mean Telford College having to rip anything up and start again.
“In fact, we see them very much as an endorsement of the work we are already doing, and an indication that in many vocational areas we are ahead of the game.
“Any Government plans which help to open up further doors for collaboration between industry and education should be warmly welcomed.
“We already work closely with some of the area’s biggest employers, and our curriculum has changed dramatically over the past couple of years to provide the skills they say they need.”
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “These reforms are at the heart of our plans to build back better, ensuring all technical education and training is based on what employers want and need, whilst providing individuals with the training they need to get a well-paid and secure job, no matter where they live, and in the sectors that are critical to our future economic success.”