More training needed to help colleges handle student influx

4th December 2009 at 00:00
Further education staff may need additional training to handle larger class sizes as student numbers rise due to the recession, according to the UK's latest skills audit

The report, by the Learning and Skills Network on behalf of Lifelong Learning UK (LLUK), says all FE providers must improve their ability to identify training needs and provide opportunities for continuing professional development.

This is vital, it says, in the face of diminishing resources, which threaten the level of training opportunities offered by employers.

The report, based on interviews with major lifelong learning organisations and FE providers, says that employers have had to cut their training budgets and be more innovative with their training practices.

It recommends that FE providers seek partnerships to take advantage of economies of scale and share best practice. It also advocates secondments and more in-house training.

The recession means apprenticeships are likely to decline because companies are not recruiting as many young people as they used to. But student numbers are likely to increase, particularly within further education. The report says this will "require staff to develop the necessary skills to deal with larger class sizes and to provide a wider range of courses".

Hal Bonella, research and data officer for LLUK, said learning providers had reported a fall in employer demand for work-based training, including apprenticeships. But he said that providers were experiencing high demand for other full and part-time courses.

Universities had experienced a similar growth in demand for places, with applications up by nearly 8 per cent on last year. Colleges would absorb some of the overspill from the university sector, as well as generating their own demand.

The report adds that while the impact of the recession is severe, other factors such as policy change, globalisation, technological change and the need for succession planning in the face of an ageing workforce are all major drivers of change in terms of training and skills needs.

TRAINED TO WIN

The report recommends:

- Increased collaboration and partnership working

- Use of secondments

- Better identification of staff training needs

- Increased provision of in-house staff training.

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