A commercial mind- set for FE & Skills

A commercial mind- set for FE & Skills

18th March 2016

Following our recent Parliamentary Symposium on how the FE & Skills Sector can develop a commercial mind set. Mike Smith, OBE, Chief Executive of Gen2 and Chair of the FETL Board sets out his thoughts.

My own organisation is a relatively small Independent Training Provider (ITP), specialising in high-end skills and education for the engineering, advanced manufacturing and energy sectors. We are employer owned and led, and like to think that we run an efficient and effective operation, that is commercially driven but guided by a clear set of values concerning the high quality of the learner’s journey, and their attainment of worthwhile careers that meet the skills needs of our employers.

We pursue the profit motive as we believe it is the most honest and best way to ensure the organisation’s financial stability and sustainability, whilst being able to continue to invest in our future through the use of new technology and the increased skills of our employees. In doing this we have been successful at winning major services contracts in both the public and private sectors.

However, with the impending introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy by Government from April 2017, we believe that a step-change will be required, and as a consequence our whole business model will have to be re-engineered.

For to meet the challenges and opportunities the introduction of the Levy and hence the commercialisation of the apprenticeship market will bring, leaders of providers from across the sector will be required to radically re-think their offer.

It is likely that a more dynamic/fluid market will require organisational agility and staff flexibility, in order to offer employers and individuals a range of high quality, integrated services. To achieve this, new skill-sets will be required underpinned by a change in organisational mind-set, so that;

  • no longer will the pursuit of funding be the imperative, and income generation confused with commercialisation;
  • organisations adopt the commercial imperative of achieving bottom-line results, whilst still remaining true to their core values;
  • focus is placed on reducing the organisation’s cost base, and with it the introduction of new systems and technologies, and most crucially;
  • organisations will have a single and clear focus on understanding their local market, and be excellent at anticipating the specific skills needs of employers.

Above all else, will be the complete alignment of the organisation’s service offering to the needs of employers, but executed with unflawed quality of delivery and levels of customer satisfaction.

You can read a summary of the Parliamentary Symposium that took place on the 10th March 2016 here:

Creating a more Commercially-minded FE and Skills Sector

Mike Smith OBE
CEO Gen2 Training

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