The long-awaited Skills for Jobs White Paper has been published today by the Department for Education.
Both education secretary Gavin Williamson and apprenticeships and skills minister Gillian Keegan promised that the paper would be “revolutionary” – so what does it actually propose?
The measures it sets out are split into five categories: “employers at the heart of post-16 skills”, “advanced technical and higher technical skills”, “a flexible lifetime guarantee”, “responsive providers supported by effective accountability”, “governance and intervention” and “supporting outstanding teaching”.
Reaction from the sector: what do leaders make of the FE White Paper?
Proposals in full
Putting employers at the heart of post-16 skills
- Give employers a central role working with further education colleges, other providers and local stakeholders to develop new “local skills improvement plans”, which shape technical skills provision so that it meets local labour market skills needs.
- Pilot “local skills improvement plans” in trailblazer local areas, exploring an approach where they are led by accredited Chambers of Commerce and other business representative organisations, in collaboration with local providers, and engage employer and provider groups to ensure the most effective models of employer representation are created before wider roll-out.
- Make strategic development funding available in 2021-22 in a number of pilot areas to support colleges to reshape their provision and address local priorities that have been agreed with local employers.
- Ensure the government has up-to-date and expert advice on the labour market and national skills gaps from the Skills and Productivity Board.
- Align the substantial majority of post-16 technical and higher technical education and training to employer-led standards set by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, so skills provision meets skills need.
- Continue to improve and grow apprenticeships so more employers and individuals can benefit from them as part of the lifetime skills guarantee.
- Improve the quality of traineeships to better support young people in transitioning to apprenticeships and other occupations.
- Continue to support participation in English, maths and digital training to meet employers’ needs and support people to progress in employment or further study.
- Invite proposals through the strategic development fund to establish college business centres within FE colleges that will work with employers in a designated sector on business development and innovation.
Advanced technical and higher technical skills
- Use the new £2.5 billion National Skills Fund to enhance the funding to support adults to upskill and reskill. This will include an offer, backed by £95 million in 2021-22, for all adults to achieve their first full advanced (level 3) qualification as part of the lifetime skills guarantee.
- Expand the Institutes of Technology programme to every part of the country by the end of this Parliament, to spearhead the increase in higher-level technical skills in science, technology, engineering and maths.
- Continue to roll out T levels, to prepare students for entry into skilled employment or higher levels of technical study, including apprenticeships.
- Reform higher technical education (levels 4 and 5) with a new approval system based on employer-led standards.
- Create clear progression routes for students towards the higher-level technical qualifications that employers need.
A flexible lifetime guarantee
- Implement the flexible lifelong loan entitlement to the equivalent of four years of post-18 education from 2025.
- As a pathway towards the lifelong loan entitlement, stimulate the provision of high-quality higher technical education (levels 4 and 5), as work goes towards making it as easy to get a student finance loan for an approved higher technical qualification as it is for a full-length degree.
- Introduce pilots to stimulate higher technical education and incentivise more flexible and modular provision.
- Determine how best to stimulate credit transfer between institutions and courses.
- Consult on the detail and scope of the lifelong loan entitlement in 2021.
- Improve how teaching is delivered so that it is more accessible, with the use of digital and blended learning.
- Provide clear information about career outcomes through occupational maps, wage returns data and ensuring providers give pupils information about all options.
Responsive providers supported by effective accountability, governance and intervention
- Simplification and streamlining of funding for FE to support high-value provision relevant to the labour market, with elements of simplified and streamlined funding to be tested ahead of consultation.
- Give more certainty to providers over their funding, including considering how to move to a multi-year funding regime.
- Reform the accountability approach, relaxing ring-fences and reporting, and instead focusing on outcomes.
- Introduce new accountability structures to underpin the delivery of local skills improvement plans.
- Continue to invest in the college estate, to transform facilities and enable high-quality provision.
- Introduce new powers for the secretary of state for education, so the government can intervene quickly and decisively in cases where there are persistent problems that cannot otherwise be addressed, either with colleges not delivering effectively or where local providers are unable to deliver the skills priorities for that area.
- Strengthen the governance of colleges by taking a clearer position on what good governance and leadership looks like, and placing specific requirements on colleges and other provider types.
- Ensure that subcontracting practices improve educational outcomes.
Supporting outstanding teaching
- Launch a national recruitment campaign for teachers in FE settings.
- Base initial teacher education on employer-led standards.
- Improve the provision of high-quality professional development and support progression for teachers.
- Facilitate a strong relationship between industry and providers.
- Support apprenticeships teachers and lecturers with a tailored professional development offer.
- Introduce comprehensive workforce data collection.