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What does the government’s Industrial Strategy mean for learners?

Thursday 20-04-2017 - 18:07

On Monday we submitted our response to the Industrial Strategy Green Paper. Unusually, the strategy included an entire section on developing skills and the further education (FE) sector. But what does it mean for learners?

The Industrial Strategy is the government’s plan for a post-Brexit Britain. In the past, Industrial Strategies have tended to only focus on things like infrastructure and business, but this one included a section devoted to developing basic skills and reforming the way that FE is delivered. We already knew a lot of the detail of because of the changes proposed in the Post 16 Skills Plan, but this was our first opportunity to formally comment on the reforms. You can read our whole response here.

What did the strategy say?

The key proposals:

Improving Basic Skills – the government want to ensure that every person in the country has a firm grounding in literacy and numeracy. They are looking to change the way that these skills are taught.

Transition year – A year immediately after school to help learners who need extra support with basic skills. The year would look to develop an achievable careers and skills plan that learners would work towards.

Reforming FE – FE will be provided through 15 ‘routes’, which include areas like Agriculture, Construction and Health and Science. Learners will be able to move through these routes either at college or on an apprenticeship.

Work Placements – In these routes, learners will be able to access a 12 week work placement.

Dual Teaching – Teachers that have experience in both teaching and the industry they are teaching.

Institutes of Technology - These are looking to increase the provision of higher level technical education. They will be regional and specialist and will provide levels 3-5.

Maintenance loans – In the Spring Budget the Chancellor revealed that maintenance loans would be provided for FE students who were studying at a National College or Institute of Technology.

FE Application Process – They are looking to introduce a UCAS type of system for learners applying for FE courses.

Careers Information, Advice and Guidance – The government will announce a ‘careers strategy’ later in the year that looks to improve the provision of IAG.

What do we like about the strategy?

  • We really like the strong focus on developing skills. For too long FE has been the subject of huge government cuts, so to see the government actually talk about improving and investing in FE is welcome
  • The introduction of maintenance loans for some FE learners
  • The concept of a transition year for learners who have left secondary education without basic skills
  • Clear, high quality routes for technical education, with a focus on excellent teaching and the introduction of high quality work placements within them

What do we think the government need to do to ensure the strategy works for leaners?

  • Invest in increasing the diversity of students entering and remaining in the research and innovation sector
  • Expand the definition of ‘basic skills’ to accurately reflect what skills learners believe are a necessity
  • Ensure that learner voice is embed into the work around the 15 routes and the transition year by holding consultations with learners and creating learner panels that sit alongside employer panels
  • Create financial parity of esteem with higher education and make maintenance loans available for all technical courses, not just those at Institutes of Technology or National Colleges
  • Ensure that learners have equal access and opportunities within technical education by; financially supporting disadvantage learners and developing proposals that adequately consider the needs of pre-entry, level 1 and level 2 learners within the 15 routes

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