Changes in government policy, funding restrictions and the application of new technologies are all driving change within the Further Education sector. Here we review some of the most pressing issues and examine how they are likely to impact on the development of Further Education over the coming years.
Closer collaboration between colleges and employers
As the flow of skills funding has moved away from colleges and towards business, education providers will be encouraged to engage more closely with commercial organisations to develop training programmes that are in tune with the needs of employers. Although this will be an enforced move, it is likely to produce a range of positive outcomes, as closer collaboration and the formation of new strategic partnerships should lead to the evolution of curricula that match the needs of business and equip young people with the skills they need to succeed.
A decline in apprenticeships?
Changes to the way apprenticeships are funded are likely to have an effect on the number of places offered to young people. With employers required to make a cash contribution, participation in the scheme by smaller firms seems likely to fall away. The impact will be particularly heavy in sectors which are dominated by small employers, with a subsequent decline in the quality of service provision in these areas. Potential new academic assessments may also make apprenticeship schemes less appealing to individuals who are seeking non-academic training opportunities.
MOOCS and VOOCs
Massive Open Online Courses provide access to course materials through the web, offering potentially unlimited participation. With video tutorials, texts and Q&As supported by interactive student forums, they offer a low-cost route to university study, and could prove particularly attractive to people seeking to up-skill in specific areas, as students can pick and choose which elements to study, without having to sign up to an entire course. Government is showing an interest in this area through the Further Education Learning Technology Action Group. Vocational Open Online Courses appear the logical next step.
The Further Education sector is bracing itself for a range of dramatic funding cuts, with the adult skills budget in line for a potentially destructive 40% reduction. With a significantly reduced budget, the only logical reaction is a flood of mergers amongst independent education providers. Faced with similar cuts to the 16-18 year-old funding, colleges are likely to adopt a similar survival strategy.
It’s clear that the Further Education sector is facing a number of significant challenges, and leaders and executives of all organisations associated with the sector will have to devise innovative new strategies to overcome them. Recruitment and retention of talented individuals is therefore a critical success factor. Stone Executive is an experienced education executive search firm with a strong track-record in education executive recruitment. Our education headhunters have broad experience of working with all kinds of Further Education clients, and it’s their extensive professional network and deep insight into the sector that makes Stone Executive one of the UK’s leading education executive recruitment firms.
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