Against the backdrop of a changing economy, Brexit, and the urgency of Covid-19, it is clear more than ever before that we need our FE sector to be at the forefront of social and economy recovery. To do this, we want to see the FE sector become more defined, careers and skills focused, and collaborative, with Colleges fulfilling their role as anchor institutions and trusted service for providers for their local businesses
We need our FE sector to define its uniqueness, and going forward the sector needs to know what it is willing to lose, what it wants to maintain, and what it wants to grow in its new agenda. To do this, we want to see the FE sector become more:
- Defined – setting a clear purpose and direction for its own future;
- Career and skills focused – by continuing developing close links with local industry to ensure colleges address the skill shortages in the labour market; and
- Collaborative – by taking on anchor roles within the heart of their local community, and sharing practice with the wider FE community across the UK.
A clear definition for FE: Edge encourages the FE sector to establish a clear definition for itself, with a focus on what it is as opposed to what it is not. This could provide greater clarity across the system. Edge recommends individual FE providers continue to define their own identity and missions within this to ensure that their local offer is equally clear.
Better support for our FE workforce: To develop a skilled UK workforce, the FE sector needs to attract, develop and recognise its own teaching staff. Edge would support increased pay for our FE workforce, better policies targeted at recruitment and retention (for example via regular feedback and offering clear career progression routes) and strengthening professional development. We would also like to see better interchange between lecturers and employers and at Edge, we have been piloting successful ‘teacher externships’ to explore this possibility further.
Sharing best practice across the UK: Colleges and education departments across the four nations are encouraged to focus on forming collaborative groupings, bringing together schools, independent training providers and higher education institutions. With support from organisations like Edge, sharing best practice can be facilitated right across the UK.
Find out more in Our Plan for Further Education
Edge has also supported the Commission on the College of the Future, whose final UK report has now been published.