Embracing change

20th July 2012 at 01:00

I welcomed the publication on 12 July of the Ofsted report Skills for Employment: the impact of skills programmes for adults on achieving sustained employment ("'Sheep dip' approach to unemployed just isn't on, says Ofsted", 13 July). While the timing of the research reflects a system in transition, Ofsted identifies good practice and makes valuable suggestions.

Giving unemployed people the skills to get into and stay in work is one of my highest priorities so I want to set out what I am doing, and what I plan to do, to support the sector.

I am pleased that many colleges and other providers are finding innovative ways to transform their offer to the unemployed and will ensure that good practice is widely shared. The best results derive from programmes linked to actual job vacancies, and I intend to build on this. We are providing full government subsidy for training for the unemployed and will be testing job outcome payments from next term. I am keen that bureaucracy does not get in the way of effective provision and will continue to work with my colleagues in the Department for Work and Pensions to drive forward a more streamlined process.

I am proud of the quality of further education and skills provision. Ofsted has rightly highlighted the importance of initial assessment and designing provision, particularly in English and maths, which effectively prepares unemployed people for work. I will give this area particular attention as we take forward the outcomes of our wider English and maths review.

Ofsted's report provides a great opportunity to learn from the past year's experience and build high-quality programmes for the unemployed. I applaud the FE sector's willingness to embrace change, its readiness to innovate and its commitment to learners and communities.

John Hayes, Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning.

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