The Further Education sector urgently requires a coherent strategy and clear vision for the future, or it will fail to provide the skilled workers desperately needed by UK employers – according to The 5% Club, an employer led body comprising of over 275 organisations.
A survey of its members, who range from FTSE100 companies to SMEs and the public sector, indicated nearly half are unable to access training which meets their needs. And if current limitations in the Further Education (FE) sector are not addressed, employers will not be able to increase the number of apprentices they take on – leaving the UK with a massive skills gap in global markets.
Of The 5% Club’s members, including many who work in key sectors requiring specialist skillsets and/or based in rural areas, 47% say they are unable to find training providers for the specific skills they require. The challenge this causes employers is clear, when 91% of members also believe that the Further Education sector is critical to future skills and training.
With further consolidation expected in FE and the pending introduction of T-levels, The 5% Club’s research reveals that, in spite of the pivotal role Further Education needs to play in delivering a skilled workforce, only 42% of respondents are optimistic about the outlook for the sector.
The 5% Club concludes that the Further Education sector must become more entrepreneurial, reaching out and building new relationships with employers to secure additional funding revenue streams if it is to meet the needs of 21st century employers.
Lady Cobham CBE, Director General of The 5% Club, said: “Our members clearly indicate that Further Education is core to our economic future. But delivering the skills they are demanding requires vital improvement in the sector. This will require new thinking, both from the Government and the providers, if we are to ensure the high quality training relevant to today’s employers and job-seekers – and tomorrow’s prosperity.”