First published FE News 27 July 2016

 

The EU referendum, whatever the outcome, has highlighted the need to stress the purposes of further education.  Along with the skills shortage, we are experiencing a lack of appropriate and worthwhile employment opportunities for many of our young people and adults.  One of the main reasons for this dichotomy is that the call for education, education, education has undermined the overall needs of our society and ignores the variety of abilities that we, as a nation, possess. So for post-sixteen, the educational dogma of the past should be augmented by the future necessities of training, training, training!

I am inspired by the celebrity chefs who have broken new ground in raising awareness of the food we eat.  They have stepped back from simply seeing food as being a commodity and are drawing attention to the vital role it plays in our general well-being.  They are wresting control from vested interests whose main concern is the profit line and have turned an industry, once associated with drudgery, into an inspirational occupation. They provide training opportunities that imbue a sense of pride in the people they employ and have made ‘greasy spoons’ a rapidly fading memory.

In further education we too possess similar passions and we need to grow in confidence.  We must resist the vested interests that are pushing our vocational training resources into becoming extensions of secondary schooling and for parking ‘bums on seats’ in order to mask the lack of genuine job opportunities.  Furthermore, we should be adding our voices in support of the employers and entrepreneurs who are the way to providing gainful employment.

Further education already succeeds in:

Supporting employers and learners in apprenticeship schemes

  • Supporting employers and learners in other training schemes
  • Providing learners with specialised courses required by their working practices
  • Providing qualifications that lead to improved employment prospects
  • Providing hobby and activity classes through our community provisions

Where further education needs to be promoted:

  •  In encouraging wider acceptance of Functional Skills Maths. We all need to be numerate, as in having knowledge of arithmetic; however knowledge of mathematics is mainly required by scientists and engineers.  Employers, unless they have a specific need, should be encouraged to see that Functional Skills can be more suitable than GCSE Mathematics.
  • In encouraging wider acceptance of Functional Skills English. Employers require basic levels of literacy in order to be able to read and write letters, emails and reports, for examples.  However, unless employers have a specific need for the greater awareness of grammar and literature, they should be encouraged to see that Functional Skills can be more appropriate than GCSE English.
  • Supporting employer university sponsorship schemes, which include the following benefits:
  •  Employers decide which qualification is needed and for whom it is best suited
  • Society benefits from university resources being used effectively
  • Employees earn while they learn
  • Universities gain from having committed students

Thinking Outside the Box:

  •  The creation of Functional Skills Citizenship. There is a general lack of awareness in the following subjects:
  •  Bank interest rates
  • Democratic principles and the workings of politics
  • Food and diet
  • Income tax
  • Insurance cover
  • Legal obligations and the legal system
  • Press, television and social media influences
  • Retirement pensions
  • Other suitable topics

To conclude:

It is given that for our country to continue generating wealth, we need to tap into the variety of our abilities and provide outlets for these talents in a variety of worthwhile ways.  Along with this, we must end intellectual and social snobbery in our attitude to work; all worthwhile jobs are equally necessary and deserving of equal respect.  Towards these ends we need training that is relevant, realistic and realisable – and never has there been a greater need for training, training, training!

What a great article and absolutely relevant post EU Referendum!

 

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