The principal of Telford College has taken part in a national debate on the future of the UK’s further education sector.
Graham Guest was invited to speak at the Westminster Education Forum’s policy conference as part of a wide-ranging discussion on the content of the Government’s new Skills and Post-16 Education Bill.
He was one of five expert speakers to address the online audience in a forum on the further education sector, post-pandemic recovery, and strategies for plugging skills gaps.
Other speakers were the chief executive of the Federation of Awarding Bodies, director of research and development at the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, a professor of higher education learning and management at Aston Business School, and the head of policy at the awarding body NCFE
Graham spoke about the importance of raising the profile of the breadth of further education opportunities now available, and the need to ensure that employers always felt ‘centre stage’ in the development of the curriculum.
He also outlined the Skills Development Fund pilot project which Telford College is leading across the Marches, in conjunction with other local colleges, with a specific focus on the health and social care sector.
The new Government bill seeks to offer a new outlook for post-16 education where every young adult has a broad range of opportunities – removing the illusion that a degree is the only path to a good career.
Graham said he felt it was a good step for the sector, and included many positive initiatives which Telford College was already adopting including the fostering of closer links with businesses through sector-specific ‘hubs’.
With new technical T levels now being rolled out as a vocational alternative to A levels, Graham said he was a great supporter of the programme. But he asked the policy makers to consider improved pathways for those that leave school without maths or English qualifications.
The Westminster Education Forum
has dozens of high-profile patrons from both the House of Commons and House of Lords, and organises senior-level conferences on public policy relating to education and children services issues.