FE News chats with Nick Davy, HE policy manager at the Association of Colleges (AoC).
He talks about how recent developments will have a far reaching impact across both Higher Education and Further Education.
Click on the video below to find out more:
Over the past decade Edge has championed the importance and benefits of high quality technical, practical and vocational education and training, seeking a closer alignment between education and the skill needs of the UK economy.Edge encourages innovation in education by supporting the creation of new institutions that promote profound employer engagement and address areas of skills shortages for the UK economy. In addition Edge champions projects that will support the effective dissemination of best practice in vocational education and training and have the ability to support further development or replication. All the projects in the series have the potential to become beacons of excellence and exemplars of what can be achieved.This year we ran our third Edge Challenge (http://www.edge.co.uk/projects/edgechallenge) - an enterprise competition for young people who are studying or have studied a course of technical, practical or vocational learning. The competition is run in partnership with the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy and the Gazelle Colleges Group.The final was held in November at The Skills Show.Last year's winner, David Humpston, gives us his take on the competition. David's Q A is followed by Graeme Tidd's, National Business Enterprise Manager at the Peter Jones Foundation.David Humpston – Edge Challenge 2014 Winner and Director of Viewpoint VideosWhy did you enter the Edge Challenge?I entered the Edge Challenge because it would provide me with the opportunity to present my business concept to successful entrepreneurs and investors and the feedback from them was really useful. The Peter Jones Enterprise Academy also recommended that I should enter the Edge Challenge after winning their National Entrepreneur of the Year award.What did you hope to gain from entering?Along with the chance to present to investors at the pitch, the final culminated in speaking to a large crowd at the NEC, a great public speaking experience. The seed-funding prize for 1st place was £3,000 in cash which, if I won it, would really help move the business forward. Luckily I won and the cash prize helped towards equipment and software development.Why is it so important for competitions like the Edge Challenge to be available to young people?I strongly believe that the best time to get started in entrepreneurship is from a young age. Younger people also tend to have lower costs of living than when they are older with a mortgage or children etc. If a high-risk business isn't successful, young entrepreneurs may not have as much to lose, which reduces the fear of failure. However, external funding is normally still a requirement to launch any business, and that's where the Edge Challenge helps. Without the Edge Challenge, there would be less opportunity for young people to start ventures.What have been the greatest challenges for you in business?Initially, the greatest challenge was to be viewed in the right way by potential clients. When starting a small business, others can often see it as a 'hobby' or 'project' rather than a physical business with a team of people that can deliver valuable products/services. This isn't as much of a challenge now that we have had success with clients and started building a team but at the beginning you have to prove yourself and the concept.What has been your biggest achievement since winning the Edge Challenge?Partnering with new clients and building a small team. Since winning the Edge Challenge, Viewpoint has partnered with Capital Karts, the longest kart track in the UK. We are now discussing partnerships with more venues and employing more people!What advice would you give to young people who are thinking of starting up as an entrepreneur?Have a go. If you have an idea for a product or service that could be useful for people, ask them if they would benefit from it and what they would pay for it. Find out what it would cost to produce. The next step is to create a prototype or sample and test it out by selling or pitching. Seek feedback on how to improve your product/service and keep going. Once up and running with proof of concept and evidence of what you can provide, I think it becomes easier.Graeme Tidd - National Business Enterprise Manager, The Peter Jones FoundationWhat are you doing that is different and innovative?We run a number of ground-breaking enterprise-based programmes for schools and colleges:FE - The Peter Jones Enterprise Academy set out to be a catalyst for cultural change by bringing the boardroom into the classroom. The Academy aims to equip future generations of entrepreneurs with the skills and mind-set to run their own businesses, thereby supporting the future of the British economy.Primary and Secondary - The Peter Jones Enterprise School Award is a brand new initiative, designed to recognise and nurture enterprising culture in schools. It has been set up to support students and teachers in the development of entrepreneurship and enterprise skills, by providing the opportunity for students to run their own Peter Jones Enterprise Club at school.Tycoon in Schools - Launched by the Foundation in July 2012, Tycoon in Schools is a free national enterprise competition, which aims to encourage the nation's budding entrepreneurs to get involved in business by giving them a start-up loan to run a business at school.What is the role of a Business Enterprise Manager?I assist in developing and delivering a high quality experience for all colleges, schools and learners across the Peter Jones Foundation's key areas of work: the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy, the Peter Jones Enterprise School Award and Tycoon in Schools. This involves supporting learners and staff, and developing engaging opportunities within our programmes through working alongside local and national businesses.Why is it important to promote entrepreneurial skills to young people?Enterprise opens young minds to possibilities beyond conventional progression routes and raises aspirations. By developing enterprising skills and qualities, young people develop a wide range of skills, applying themselves through meaningful experiences also valued by employers. Enterprise therefore assists in young people becoming ready for employment, and builds a platform on which self-employment can be achieved.Through Enterprise, young people are empowered to utilise their potential in a way meaningful to them. This aids independent thinking and encourages self-development.Enterprise exposes young people to new possibilities and new opportunities within which they can influence and control their own path.Why do you promote the Edge Challenge to your students?The Edge Challenge encourages young people to reach further, to condense their knowledge and look further ahead. The Challenge is an excellent opportunity for students to gain both recognition for their achievements but also to gain vital funding to allow faster progression in their business ventures.What do you think students get out of competitions like this?Students enjoy being challenged. Being able to appraise their business ventures is a process that they value, and the thrill of participating in a significant national challenge is particularly appealing.Find out more about the Edge Challenge here (http://www.edge.co.uk/projects/edgechallenge).
Further education (FE) in England is being strengthened and reformed by UK Government, with area reviews one of the most significant planks in this process.Area reviews are set to strengthen the sustainability and delivery of FE in England. It is government's belief that reviewing the provision of vocational education across the country, and the prospect of organisational mergers, will allow the country to move towards fewer, larger, more resilient and efficient colleges, that support collaboration and strengthen local partnerships.It's a big aspiration, of course – and attaining this utopian vision where every college is financially resilient, viable and offering exceptional learning environments that meet local demands, is no small task.Fundamental to achieving this transformation, is the effective use of technology.At Jisc we've long held the conviction that increased use of technology is the key to unlocking new efficiencies and excellent teaching and learning.The FE commissioner, Department for Education (https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-education) (DfE) and the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-business-innovation-skills) (BIS) also agree, seeing technology as critical in supporting the delivery of the area reviews and implementing the outcomes successfully.As the digital technology organisation for the sector, by the sector, we are committed to supporting colleges through this process.We have services and skills (https://www.jisc.ac.uk/area-review-support) to support the use of technology and provide efficiencies for colleges – particularly when that relates to creating an infrastructure and delivery model that is technology-led, based on shared service models, effective, efficient and fit for the future, and regarded as world leading.For the area reviews to be effective, it's important to get a clear view of current provision at both the institutional and local level, where it needs to go – and how technology can help you to get there.As each wave of area reviews gets underway, we are here to offer our help and support you to make informed decisions around your use and need for technology.We attend an initial meeting with college principals and governors, ahead of the first steering group, where we explain how we can help provide them with the information they need to make informed decisions about how technology can work for everyone at the college.One of the ways we're attempting to support colleges is by offering free tools to make a 'deep dive' into their current operations.After the initial meeting, we will provide participating colleges with a link to a specially-developed online technology review tool, along with guidance and a deadline for completion, which will allow them to establish technology usage and effectiveness, and identify improvements to back office systems and curriculum delivery.We'll also provide them with an online financial review tool to assess technology-related expenditure.Data analysis from both review tools will enable us to provide principals and governors with intelligence that should help them to make informed decisions. For example, using this data we can advise colleges on potential efficiency savings by using technology more effectively, and suggest alternative technology approaches, such as improvements to back office systems and teaching, learning and assessment practices.It's then up to the college to implement these recommendations and if needed, we're on hand once again to support by highlighting particular technologies and tools that will be beneficial.We'll be in touch as your area starts to go through the reviews. Look out for an email from Jisc, or in the meantime find out more about our area review proces (https://www.jisc.ac.uk/area-review-support)s, speak with your account manager or call the customer contact centre on 0203 006 6077.Sue Attewell is head of change for FE and skills at Jisc
To use the word innovation at a time when funding cuts, area review and general disarray surrounds us seems almost a contradiction.
Nevertheless at my college earlier this month we opened the first phase of a state-of-the-art engineering development. The way in which this new area came about is interesting, an example of partnership in action, taking ideas and concepts from the College and combining them with influence from the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership and North Somerset Council. The facilities are impressive in every aspect and the learner response from trainees with GKN, IPECO and others show a great deal of satisfaction with what is on offer.
I suppose this is essentially the type of development one would expect to see a lot more of in the future – concepts that are collaborative and also meet the needs of business and industry. I do worry, however, that there will be a balanced approach when it comes to the skill agenda i.e. an outcome agreement that reflects the priorities of LEP, local authority and niche areas of skills delivery. My college is in the West of England so as you can imagine we are facing these agendas plus devolution and area review.
This now gives me a clear link to area review and devolution which in theory should be intrinsically linked as both agendas will focus on best value approaches to skills delivery and ensuring local priorities are met.
Most recently, I attended an AoC event in Rugby, Warwickshire which concentrated on the methodologies behind area review and gave insight into the process. From the perspective of Further Education Colleges it is a worrying time for the whole sector but there was a lot of common sense talked particularly the statement that there is nothing to fear if a college has good or better finances and quality, and provides best value to its learners and the skills area it serves.
Fine I suppose, but actually if the Government takes another chunk of money from the sector, will any institution have good finances? More importantly, and I am very much influenced by the views of the National Audit Office and others here, surely any analysis needs to be uniform, and should apply to all post sixteen provision including school sixth forms and private training providers.
So then what is the psychological remedy for those of us in the sector facing such challenges? Well for a start we are getting paid for our roles – spare a thought for our devoted governors who volunteer to do what they do. These poor souls will now be subjected to the vagaries of the area review panels and I am sure many governors will be thinking that this level of exposure and time was never in the role description!
Now back to the Principal and his or her management team. There is only one key message and that is to know your data and your finances, because as with Ofsted you need to be able to respond to assertions and to concisely brief your governing body representative(s). The devil thereafter is in the detail but for my part I am immensely proud of our sector and I will certainly be ready to bat for my corner – as I am sure is the case for most colleges as we make a significant contribution to the skills agenda in our locality and do a good job of it. It will be interesting to enter the debate....
Gosh - I have just reread what I have written. It sounds like we need the ethos of 'Braveheart' to deal with this current challenge, coupled with the imagination of 'ET' and the sense of humour of and disposition of Wilt. Or is it that scene (showing my age) from Dallas where all the goings on were all part of a dream?
Sadly this is no dream, it is a time to face up to realities, to make unpalatable changes, to challenge assertions that are incorrect and moreover to ensure the baby isn't thrown out with the bath water. Do you know at this rate we will be more than up for the challenge!
Paul Phillips is principal and chief executive of Weston College, Weston-super-Mare
The Comprehensive Spending Review has been announced.
Highlights from the review include:
By 2019 to 2020, government spending on apprenticeships will have doubled in cash terms compared to 2010 to 2011 including income from the new apprenticeship levy. Funding for the core adult skills participation budgets will be protected in cash terms and five National Colleges will train an estimated 21,000 students by 2020 in industries central to the productivity agenda such as digital and high speed rail.
So how has the sector responded to the announcements by the chancellor, George Osborne?
Stewart Segal, chief Executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, said:
"The Apprenticeship Levy will be set at the rate of 0.5% of payroll which will mean that the majority of large employers will be encouraged to increase their Apprenticeship programmes. It will also apply to more businesses than we expected because the £3m benchmark means that employers with less than 150 employees could be included in the Levy. We need to understand a lot more of the details but we have recommended that the rules around the Levy need to be very clear and simple if we are to see an effective implementation by April 2017.
"We are pleased that the 16 to 19 non schools budget and the non-Apprenticeship budget for adults have been protected in cash terms although that does mean real terms cuts for the next five years as costs increase. This will mean that budgets need to be prioritised towards key programmes such as Traineeships, English and maths and support for the unemployed. We are also pleased that early support for the unemployed is important through JCP and that the new programme for the long term unemployed will be an integrated Work and Health Programme. The new programme must recognise the important lessons learnt from the current programmes. '
Martin Doel, chief executive of the Association of Colleges (AoC), said: "Today's Spending Review will be a huge relief for further education and sixth form colleges following five years of stringent budget cuts.
"In protecting the core funding rate in cash terms for 16 to 19-year-olds it shows that the Government recognises the key role of colleges in driving the country's economic prospects, closing skills gaps and raising productivity.
"Sixth form colleges will welcome the news that they can choose whether to become an academy enabling them to reclaim VAT as schools have done so for many years. We have long campaigned for colleges to be able to reclaim VAT.
"Following a massive 28% cut to the adult skills budget earlier this year we had real concerns for the future of this essential training that provides the nation's future workforce including nurses, social care workers and construction workers. It is a positive step in the right direction that Mr Osborne has chosen to spare the adult skills budget in today's announcement. Enabling 19-year-olds to access further education loans will also provide additional support for this vital training.
"The apprenticeship levy is a genuinely bold move by the Government that will impact on the future of skills training in England by creating a new independent funding stream for apprenticeships. Setting the levy at 0.5% of an employer's payroll will help to ensure high-quality training is available, creating a new era of opportunities for colleges and providing high-quality training for many more apprentices. Although the Government needs to remember that apprenticeships are a job with training so they must continue to encourage employers to provide these roles."
Chris Jones, chief executive of the City Guilds Group, said: "We are pleasantly surprised by the Chancellor's commitment to professional and technical education and his recognition that this is essential to our economy. Although apprenticeships are important, they will not solve the nation's skills shortages in isolation. We need a holistic commitment to professional and technical education to achieve the Government's commitment to one million new jobs. Perhaps this is a start, but time will tell.
"We welcome the protection of the adult skills budget, the investment in University Technical Colleges and provision of loans to help individuals develop their skills. This commitment needs to be maintained."
On the apprenticeship levy:
"With annual productivity gains from training an apprentice averaging £10,280 per year, continued investment in apprenticeships makes sense. But the real challenge is increasing the number of high-quality apprenticeship placements and for that we need a sustainable, long-term funding solution.
"The levy could be that solution, but it will only be successful if employers support it. The Government needs to get the right balance between rigour and bureaucracy to make sure employers create quality apprenticeship places."
On infrastructure / devolution:
"The Government's investments in the UK's infrastructure and housing is welcome. But such large-scale projects will depend on skilled workers to ensure they are delivered to a high-standard, on time, and on budget. Skills gaps pose a huge barrier to the Government's ambitions.
"We welcome the Government's move to give local communities and cities more decision-making power around how they spend their skills budgets. It will help align the skills system to the local job markets, such as the job opportunities that these infrastructure projects create. Councils need to work with their Local Enterprise Partnerships to strengthen the link between education and employment."
James Kewin, deputy chief executive of the Sixth Form Colleges' Association, said: "The Chancellor has delivered better than expected news for Sixth Form Colleges today. First, he has listed to our representations and promised to maintain the base rate of funding for 16-19 year old students for the rest of this Parliament. As our recent funding impact showed, a further round of cuts would have had a devastating impact on the life chances of sixth form students. We look forward to seeing the finer detail of this announcement and await confirmation that there will not be reductions in other areas of 16-19 education such as funding for disadvantaged students or 18 year olds.
"And we are delighted that Sixth Form Colleges will have the opportunity to become academies - this will help to move the sector from the margins of education policy to the mainstream. Many Sixth Form Colleges are interested in academy status, as it will allow them to foster closer relationships with schools. It will also ensure that they no longer have to pay VAT - we have long campaigned for an end to this learning tax that leaves the average Sixth Form College with £317,964 less to spend on the front line education of students each year."
David Hughes, chief executive of NIACE, said: "I am delighted the Chancellor has recognised today that investment in adult skills is as important to our national growth, security and productivity as spending on health, defence and education. It's clear that the Skills Minister and his officials have fought hard and skilfully in the difficult negotiations with the Treasury in a tough spending environment. Cash protection over the parliament will provide colleges and training providers with the stability and certainty they will need to invest in new approaches to adult skills. There is a lot of work to be done now so that learners across the country get access to learning opportunities they want and need. Devolution, the Apprenticeship Levy and the extension of loans all require innovation, collaboration and investment.
"I've said previously that the Apprenticeship Levy is a game changer. It will raise around £3 billion per year and it is so important that a proportion of this, perhaps our suggested 1%, is dedicated to a Quality and Access Fund. This would address the twin requirements of improving access into apprenticeships for under-represented groups and achieving higher quality programmes. Our Apprentice Charter, a new mark of recognition for employers offering high quality apprenticeships, is a simple idea which employers and apprentices want to see put into action. We will work with the new Institute for Apprenticeships as we roll out the Apprentice Charter.
"Extending eligibility of learning loans to younger learners and to higher level learning could easily exacerbate market failures in the 24+ advanced learning loan system. This change makes it even more important for Government and providers to work together to make the loans system much more flexible and provide better information to learners. Our work in London, starting in the New Year, to test and evaluate new ways of delivering loan funded learning will help find ways to make loans work better for adults.
"We welcome the Chancellor's announcements on devolution, which closely mirror our shared ambitions for more responsive local delivery of learning, skills and employment services. Now we need to use the next 18 months to develop good ideas into great practice so that local labour markets, employers, young people and adults all thrive through joined up commissioning and service delivery."
Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust and Education Endowment Foundation, said: "While the cuts may not be as much as some feared, the Chancellor's real terms cuts to further education and sixth form studies still pose a threat to the Prime Minister's laudable social mobility goals. Those cuts could harm university access by cutting opportunities for young people to study key A-level subjects and reduce second chance college opportunities.
"We welcome the real terms protection for overall school budgets, though its terms mean many schools will still face significant cuts, and support the continuation of the pupil premium. However, in the light of our recent research, we urge caution in the introduction of the national funding formula so that those facing the double disadvantage of being poor in disadvantaged areas don't lose out.
"We are also concerned about plans to cut the student opportunity fund, which supports disadvantaged young people getting to university. But we welcome his positive response to our call for greater collaboration between universities to ensure that the £730 million of university access and outreach support is invested effectively, better co-ordinated and is well understood by young people and their teachers. A strong independent access regulator is vital to ensuring this happens.
"We welcome the new part-time maintenance loans, and extra help for post-graduates. But we deplore his plans to replace student grants with loans, leaving poorer students with greater debts than richer students. We also deplore his decision to confirm a freeze in the repayment threshold for graduates, including retrospectively for existing students, something that damages trust in the loans system.
"We welcome the Chancellor's renewed commitment to apprenticeships and to the levy on employers. But if they are to be a true engine of opportunity, it is vital that every apprentice is expected to work towards a good qualification. There's no point in having three million extra apprenticeships if two million of them leave young people without the skills to succeed. Quality as well as quantity must be built into their delivery."
On the extension of 24+ Advanced Learning Loans to 19+ learners, Theo Ege, qualifications development manager at AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians), said: "Because they have been unable to access either government funding available for 16-18 year olds or the 24+ loans, individuals aged from 19 to 24 have previously been left unable to access funding for further education study unless they were doing an apprenticeship; it is a positive step to see that this is being ended. The change will help widen access to education for 19+ learners from less well-off backgrounds who want to study further education courses to help them in their career but may not have had the money to do so before."
"While welcoming this announcement, AAT would also encourage potential students to ensure that if they do decide to take out the loan, they ensure that the course they have chosen to do will maximise their employability, and give them all the skills they need to be successful."