Gatsby welcomes today’s (Thursday 21 January) publication of the Government’s White Paper on Further Education that sets out ambitious plans for the country to have world class technical education and career guidance.
The White Paper, Skills for Jobs: Lifelong Learning for Opportunity and Growth, reaffirms that employers must be at the heart of technical education and careers guidance. If employers value and have a meaningful role in shaping the system, this opens up high-quality and rewarding opportunities for young people and adults. Achieving employer buy-in will be critical to the success of almost all measures set out in the White Paper. Highlights for Gatsby in this area include:
- Greater local employer engagement including Local Skills Development Plans and Strategic Development Funding (which would invite College Business Centres proposals amongst other initiatives)
- Technical and higher technical education substantially aligned to employer-led standards
- A focus not just on quantity but, critically, the quality of apprenticeships
Gatsby has long championed the role that technicians play as the lynchpin of our economy and that it is the technical and higher technical skills they possess which the education system needs to increase if we are to compete on a global market. These roles have not always been well understood as the personally rewarding and economically critical career opportunities that they are. The White Paper sets out clear reform aims which build on the recommendations of the Sainsbury Review, which were all accepted by government in 2016, including:
- The continued roll-out of T-levels, with all 24 available by 2023
- A kitemark approval system for qualifications based on employer-led standards at levels 4 and 5, which will confer only those of sufficient quality with ‘Higher Technical Qualification’ status
- 20 Institutes of Technology covering every area of the country by the end of this parliament
Gatsby is pleased to see the recognition by government that the success of technical education reform depends upon high-quality career guidance being provided in schools and colleges. Much work has been done across the sector since the publication of the Gatsby Benchmarks in 2014. We are also pleased that the government continues to strongly endorse the framework of the Gatsby Benchmarks in schools and colleges with support such as the growth of the Careers Hub network, Enterprise Advisers and more high-quality training for Careers Leaders. Good career guidance is also critical for adults however, and we welcome that the White Paper sets out plans to improve coordination and collaboration between government-backed providers of careers information for all age groups. We congratulate Sir John Holman, author of the Gatsby Benchmarks, on his appointment as an independent strategic adviser to oversee alignment between the Careers & Enterprise Company and National Careers Service - his understanding of the landscape is unparalleled.
All of the above can only be achieved by addressing the fundamentals that underpin the system; funding (for students, learners, and providers) and good quality teaching. The aims for these in the White Paper are ambitious. Gatsby has long supported pilot projects and targeted interventions in this space. We have also championed learning from the best international systems, unpicking how their expertise can be applied to this country. We will continue to provide resources and data and offer our support where applicable across the sector.