How colleges can support economic recovery

Colleges need to offer short 'taster' courses and gear training towards relevant growth sectors, says new report

Kate Parker

Coronavirus and skills: What can colleges do to support economic recovery?

Colleges need to offer short “taster” courses, including modular provision, and longer full qualifications; gear training towards relevant growth sectors; and focus on core and specialist digital skills, according to a report published today. 

The report published by the Collab Group outlines a range of ways that colleges can support economic recovery.

It also recommends that colleges recognise prior learning and transferability of core skills, ensure attainment of basic English and maths skills and encourage opportunities for progression from Kickstart placements into apprenticeships. 


Apprenticeships: Nine ways to future-proof the system

More: Chancellor announces new funding for skills

Need to know: Sunak promises more employer support


The report says: “The additional funding that has been committed to Kickstart is welcome and will significantly enhance the provision of training and upskilling support available to local populations. However, we believe that more targeted training interventions will be needed to support the sectors that are most important to economic recovery. We know, for example, that some sectors like hospitality and the creative industries have been significantly impacted by the pandemic.

Coronavirus: Targeting skills training at the sectors essential for recovery

“In contrast, other sectors like construction and the tech industry appeared poised to recover more quickly. Provision will need to be adaptable to help people move from areas of low skills demand to areas with higher demand. This can be delivered through short taster courses through to longer and more specialised provision. In some cases, individuals will have core transferable skills that can be identified and mapped against local job vacancies.”

The report recommends a “skills triage” which takes account of things like employment experience and transferable skills and builds a skills profile, which can then be used to assess an individual’s competencies to undertake roles in areas of high demand.

It adds: “An outcome of this triage process may be that an individual’s employment prospects would be better served by undergoing further training. Here we see a key role for colleges in the expansion and development of intermediate to higher-level training programmes across key sector subject areas that align with labour market demand.” 

The report comes days after chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a £375 million skills package in the spending review, which includes £138 million of funding to deliver the Lifetime Skills Guarantee, and £127 million to continue the Plan for Jobs skills measures. 

Mr Sunak also promised £2.9 billion over three years for a new Restart scheme, which the Treasury says will help more than a million unemployed people find jobs. As part of the scheme, people who have been out of work for more than a year will be provided with “regular intensive support” tailored to their circumstances. There will also be £1.4 billion of funding to increase the capacity of Job Centre Plus.

Today’s report from the Collab group also outlines ways in which colleges can become skills and jobs hubs, and how they can work with employers to ensure that work placements are still available for students.

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Kate Parker

Kate Parker is a FE reporter.

Find me on Twitter @KateeParker

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