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FE Minister John Hayes at the AoC conference

November 22, 2011

The minister was amongst many high profile speakers to address the college community at the AoC conference last week. Although short on detail, it’s reported that Mr Hayes gave a number of pointers to future FE policy, arising from the consultations and papers that have recently come from BIS.

As in previous recessions, commentators are seeing a significant role for FE colleges in future reskilling and training programmes.

The Minister’s policy pointers included:

  • Sharpening up local responsiveness through a new ‘innovation code.’ The issue here is the key role colleges play in local communities and the need to strengthen FE’s position within these as indicated by the recent ‘Colleges in the Community’ Commission
  • Speeding up and de-regulating the qualification system. This is not just about cutting red tape, it’s about giving employers greater sway and ensuring speedier to market provision
  • Giving colleges greater flexibility, and a little bit of money, in developing provision for the most disengaged young people
  • Developing a model of 3 year budgets for colleges to help with planning and stability
  • Supporting the growth of HE in FE evidenced recently by the volume of bids for ‘margin’ places received from the FE sector, potentially a developing model of HE
  • Further simplification and support for apprenticeship growth but with an emphasis on and indeed review of, quality. Results of the bids for higher level framework provision will be announced shortly
  • The introduction of a bursary for FE initial teacher training, important in the context of recent funding announced for school teacher bursaries and the Government’s emphasis, let alone that of the inspectorate, on teaching quality
  • The development of a global strategy for FE, interesting in the context of global skill trends but also given the changes in visa arrangements
  • Confirmation of the launch of the independent review of professionalism in FE, an issue that has bubbling around for some time and important to the future of the workforce

With thanks to Steve Besley, Pearson CPL

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