Sainsbury review has 'higher chance of success' than predecessors, author says

'Employer currency' is the key to a successful skills system, Lord Sainsbury tells Association of Colleges' annual conference

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The reforms to post-16 education put forward in the Sainsbury review have a higher chance of success than previous attempts, the review's author has said.

Speaking at the Association of Colleges annual conference in Birmingham this afternoon, Lord Sainsbury said there had been “endless attempts” to improve technical education in the past.

“Over that time, every aspect of our technical education system has been changed multiple times,” he said. “I want to suggest my report has a better chance of success because we began by doing what I would do in business, which is to look at what the best technical education systems do that we can learn from.” This, he said, had shown that three things were needed for a good technical education system.

'A national system of qualifications'

“First of all, one needs to have a national system of qualifications, which is well understood and works in the marketplace. A technical education system will not work well if people don’t know what qualification is required to do what job,” Lord Sainsbury stressed, adding that careers guidance was vital here.

The other two requirements were an effective system for funding students while they were learning and well-funded facilities and teachers to provide that education and training. “We, of course, have none of these things,” he said.

Lord Sainsbury’s review was published in July, and, among other things, it recommended that a technical route should be established alongside the well-established academic pathway. It led to the government’s Skills Plan, published alongside the review.

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