Employers in the Driving Seat?

New thinking for FE leadership: PAUL WARNER AND CATH GLADDING

This report from the Association of Employment and Learning Providers is a very welcome contribution to the debate on the involvement of employers in further education and skills. The Further Education Trust for Leadership is pleased to have supported it and to publish it.

The government has made much of its apparent desire to ‘put employers in the driving seat’ but it has been less forthcoming about what this should mean in practice or how they intend to deliver what would be a quite significant change in the way the sector is run. As the study shows, few are convinced by the government’s rhetoric, and there is little indication that employers are prepared or even particularly interested in fulfilling this role, as it is currently defined.

In the brave new post-Brexit world, in which the public purse strings are pulled tighter and we are obliged to do more of our own training rather than poaching talent from elsewhere, it will be even more important to ensure employers are contributing to the further education funding pot and playing a full role in shaping provision. Employer engagement is critical but it is far from clear that this requires putting them ‘in the driving seat’, or, indeed, whether this is desirable.

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