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Rigour and responsiveness in skills: government’s new skills strategy launched

April 5, 2013

The government launched its new skills strategy on Wednesday 3rd April, alongside an announcement of £214m new capital funding for 47 colleges. A new office of FE Commissioner was also announced, to advise ministers on inadequate colleges, which may be placed into a new “administered” status.

For marketers, there are several key aspects to the strategy, including a strong focus on the provision of good information and data (chapter 7). However, the way information is to be presented seems to take little account of colleges’ own channels, and seems to be woefully out of date, noting as it does that two colleges have already launched their own apps! – It might be more the case that 2 colleges haven’t either launched an app or a mobile site to make information easier to access!

As on many previous occasions, the government is pinning its plans on a national information service – this time underpinned by the National Careers Service (NCS). The government is also promoting a new labour market information tool developed by UKCES, and is committed to publishing new data on earnings and destinations for those who have benefited from FE.

The NCS will be responsible for a new “monthly real time scorecard” of labour marketing trends, job opportunities and courses available in each LEP area and city region, and it will “play a proactive role in connecting employers, education institutions and local partners.”

The strategy also notes “Schools must take the lead in ensuring that their pupils have access to the information they need. This is not something the government can plan centrally. We have created a new statutory duty for all schools to ensure that independent careers advice and data is provided. We will use funding levers to ensure that colleges make similar information and guidance available to their students.” From informal feedback from many CMN members, it seems that there is still a long way to go before all schools comply fully with this statutory duty.

The strategy states that “good data are essential to a rigorous and responsive skills system” – as those colleges providing community scorecard and other information about their success rates and the impact of FE on individuals know.

Other chapters cover the quality of FE, a new administered status for failing colleges, qualifications, apprenticeships, traineeships and funding. It’s quite short and you should read it to understand the government’s priorities which will shape policy, at:


Your thoughts on it would be welcome.

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