A major report published last week by the IPPR and written by Tony Dolphin looks at the recent history of vocational training for young people. He also considers lessons from Europe and makes a range of recommendations, including on careers advice in schools and reforming the vocational system.
There are currently 868,000 young people 16-24 unemployed in the UK with 247,000 of these out of work for over a year. The report’s summary notes that both this and the previous governments have introduced measures to tackle youth unemployment but “too often these measures have not focused on the underlying causes of a tougher transition from education to employment.”
Lessons from other European countries show that our “skills system has not adapted fast enough to the pace of change”, and that “Youth transitions are improved by information about the employment outcomes of various options and courses, as part of a good programme of careers education and guidance.”
“Policy on apprenticeships in recent years has been dominated by a preoccupation with quantity, putting quality at risk” and “Apprenticeships should be seen … as a high quality vocational route into work for young people.”
A lot of emphasis is put on the importance of careers education, with many recommendations for improving the service and information young people receive, from Year 7 onwards. The report’s focus is always on employability and readiness for work in careers where there are vacancies: one fact that made the news was that in 2011-12, 94,000 young people trained for hair and beauty, when there were just 18,000 new jobs, while only 123,000 were trained for the 275,000 advertised construction and engineering jobs available.
The logical consequence is that “Good labour market information is vital to successful careers guidance.” – something all marketers would know.
Besides much focus on the transition from school to work, there is a lot about training and FE as well, and much that is of interest to college marketers. Download and read the report at http://www.ippr.org/publications/remember-the-young-ones-improving-career-opportunities-for-britains-young-people
This report looks at five critical elements of the school-to-work transition for young people – the role of employers, vocational education, apprenticeships, careers guidance, and the benefits system – and at lessons the UK can learn from European economies with better youth employment records.
A long period without work at a young age can have a long-lasting effect on a person’s life chances, leading to a higher future likelihood of unemployment and lower future earnings. For this reason, UK policymakers should be particularly worried about the present level of youth unemployment. There are currently 868,000 young people aged 16–24 unemployed in the UK, and 247,000 of them have been looking for work for over a year.
This is not simply due to the financial crash and recession. While the last six or seven years have been particularly tough for the latest generation of young people, even before the financial crisis many of those entering the labour market for the first time were struggling to compete with older workers for jobs. This suggests that even a full-blown economic recovery is unlikely to solve the problem of youth unemployment in the UK.
The report makes a series of recommendations to address five critical policy areas, each of which requires a focused response.
- Employers are dissatisfied with the school-leavers who are applying to them for jobs, but a large part of the problem arises because employers are not prepared to be sufficiently involved in young people’s training to ensure that they develop meaningful, useful skills. The best way to increase employers’ engagement is to have them take a financial stake in the success of the system.
- Vocational education in England needs to be reformed so that it is held in higher esteem by employers and young people alike. As a pathway into work, higher-level vocational education should be seen as a valid alternative to a university education.
- Policy on apprenticeships in recent years has been dominated by a preoccupation with quantity, putting quality at risk. Apprenticeships should be seen by students and employers as a high-quality vocational route into work for young people.
- In those European countries that have low rates of youth unemployment, careers education and guidance play a crucial role in ensuring a smooth transition from education to work. Our recommendations focus on embedding and resourcing careers advice in schools, particularly at key milestone moments when young people make vital decisions about their future.
- The current benefits system fails to differentiate between the needs of younger umemployed people and older jobseekers, such as finishing basic education or receiving on-the-job work experience. We propose that a distinct work, training and benefits system should be established for young people.
The Education & Training Foundation’s Operational Plan for 2014-16 includes Vocational Educational and Training as one of its 3 key priorities – including building and developing relationships and reputational work with employers.
The report sets out “The Challenge” as follows:
A sustained return to prosperity will depend on being much more ambitious about the capacity of individuals, employers and vocational teachers and trainers to raise their game. Strong advanced economies need high quality vocational education and training that can support individuals, businesses and communities to grow and succeed. In England, we need a VET system that develops the ability to perform in a job, and provides a platform for progression and economic growth.
As a country, we know how to do vocational education and training well. The Commission on Adult Vocational Teaching and Learning7 (CAVTL) reported on “genuinely world-class vocational provision in a whole range of settings”, but the Commission also found that practice is inconsistent, paradoxically ‘because of the requirement to work within a system that continues to specify so much from the centre’. The challenge is to combine the need for quality standards with a locally responsive system, and to build on the expertise we have, to make it more visible and replicate it more widely….
We can only build a strong VET system in partnership with others, especially employers of all sizes. Therefore our strategic relationships and reputational work, in particular with employers, are critical as a means to achieving our goals on VET linked to the sector….
The “Intended Outcomes” of the Plan include:
- A strong VET system, which increases the volume, quality and impact of vocational education and training at levels 3 to 5.
- Enhanced reputation of the FE and training sector in the eyes of employers large and small, as they see themselves as all part of one VET system, not in a supplier/consumer relationship.
The College Marketing Network’s 27th Annual Conference will offer a range of opportunities for sponsors and exhibitors to meet our delegates – many of them budget holders.
Take an exhibition stand, sponsor one of our prestigious FE First Awards, or support the awards presentation – browse the brochure here and contact 01772 257833 to find out more.
24-25 November, Hilton Hotel Bracknell
The College Marketing Network is inviting entries for the 2014 FE First Awards for marketing excellence. The awards will be made at the Hilton Hotel Bracknell as part of our 27th Annual Conference on 24th November.
The categories for FE First Awards 2014 are:
- Collaboration project
- PR campaign, sponsored by Pressvine
- Research project
- Events management
- Internal communications
- Website, sponsored by FE Marketing
- Innovative use of technology
- Digital media, sponsored by Net Natives
- Recruitment campaign
- Print publication
- Full-time prospectus*
- Marketing Team of the Year*
* These categories are only open to colleges in current membership of the College Marketing Network at the time of the award being made (24 November 2014).
Download more information and the entry forms (different for each category) here.
Susan Lewis of Northampton College started off the day with a lively and informative session on running a large event – the 2013 FEstival, which was attended by nearly 3000 young people and their parents at the college last June. It was a huge gamble for the college, hosting and managing a music festival in miniature, but one that has paid off in profile, positive response and reputation. Northampton College won gold in the FE First Awards last year for their entry on this event, and Susan had lots of advice for colleagues who might be considering something as brave.
Christopher Brossard and Liz Williams then talked us through the redevelopment of the website for Richard Huish College – from an attractive one that didn’t do all they needed to a purpose-built and responsive one that is fit for purpose but under constant review. They outlined useful strategies and pitfalls to look out for – and told us that it was attending the 2013 regional meeting at Swindon that had spurred them on to enter their website project for the FE First Awards – where it won Gold last November.
Delegates had half an hour before lunch (not long enough according to feedback!) for round table discussions on issues of their choice, before we enjoyed an excellent buffet lunch provided by the college. Our final presentation was by Helen Ward from Chichester College which has recently been graded outstanding by Ofsted. Helen outlined how the college has been preparing for Ofsted over a period of time, and how marketing has supported and helped to develop the ethos and approach needed to achieve the grading. We also had contributions from Carla Tucker of Swindon College, and Gill Fowkes of Weston College, both also outstanding colleges.
Thanks to all our speakers for their contributions to the day, and to Swindon College for hosting us.
We’ve visited a number of fantastic new buildings at colleges around the country, but rarely amazing old buildings – a few years ago we had a regional meeting at Bridgwater College’s Cannington Centre which was very impressive, and so is the Bedford Sixth Form, where we convened for our event last week. Originally a private girls’ school, the site is a fantastic Victorian pile, including a chapel complex where we met in the Old Prayer Room.
21st century technology was a bit reluctant to catch up with us, so we started the day with some old-fashioned conversation, discussing 24+ loans, alumni, and other topics of interest, before hearing from Michael Bennett, Head of Marketing & Communications at South Essex College, on using research to inform curriculum planning, and later Lee Parker, Marketing Manager at Bedford College, who gave us an update on the college’s social media policies.
An excellent buffet lunch facilitated more networking and conversation, and photos are now on our facebook page. Feedback to the day included:
- “Another great event. Thanks to all.”
- “Great mix of marketing colleagues.”
- “Very informative and useful. Nice to see other people have the same problems.”
- “All very helpful.”