Freedom for FE

22nd January 2010 at 00:00

The recommendations made for the reform of skills funding in the Policy Exchange's "Simply Learning" report (January 8) will be welcomed by the industry and FE providers alike. If we are to raise the bar on skills in this country, we must make vocational and occupational training more demand-led.

By linking public funding simply to the attainment of full qualifications, the system limits the ability of the sector to capitalise on the market for bespoke training. If it was linked to the attainment of skills instead, more employers would be inclined to engage with colleges and providers, and FE wouldn't be so dependent on targets for its livelihood.

Individual learner accounts are one means of opening up this market. Another is to link funding to the attainment of units under the Qualifications and Credit Framework, offering the flexibility that appeals to both learners and industry. Either way, it is clear that both FE and its potential clients share the same interest in seeking a system which gives them the freedom to work together to achieve added value outcomes for individuals, employers and providers, rather than imposed targets and league tables.

Jack Matthews, Improve, the food and drink sector skills council.

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