Employers in the driving seat?

This stimulus paper from the Association of Employment and Learning Providers project team represents the kind of thoughtful provocation to all of us that the further education and skills sector badly needs.

All the Further Education Trust for Leadership’s publications are intended to have a life beyond the page, to stimulate conversations in workshops and classrooms, staff meetings, leadership seminars and other comings-together of staff and leaders within the sector. Rarely, though, is this aim so clearly and carefully articulated as it is here.

Above all, this short paper aims to open minds and promote active, informed leadership, in this case about the role of employers in FE and skills. It takes seriously the proposition that meaningful change can be generated through the reflection and innovation of leaders in the sector, and encourages open-minded, constructive answers to challenging questions. What impresses me about this paper in particular is the courage of the authors in not rushing to convenient or defensive answers to the questions they raise.

As such, this paper is true to its ambition: to stimulate thought and learning and present genuinely open questions which leaders can consider and debate with others. Too many publications on the sector fail to do this; they seek, effectively, to close down discussion and instruct and inform, rather than to stimulate. It is refreshing indeed to find authors prepared to start a conversation among their readers, and to trust them to develop intelligent, thought-out solutions. For me, for that reason, this paper represents a model for others to follow.

FETL began its own life in response to the questions and concerns of the people who work in further education and skills. Those ideas and conversations are the fuel for our work, opening up a path which we seek to illuminate further by asking more and better questions, while engaging more and different people. We are a learning organization seeking to create a learning sector, led by informed, thoughtful, critically-minded professionals.

It is for that reason that FETL is delighted to partner with the Association of Employment and Learning Providers in enabling more thought, more ideas and the growth of conversations. Working together in this way, we, as a sector, may become the agents for better FE futures.

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