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ViewPoint: Good Governance Must be Pursued by all Providers’
September 19, 2018

What does good governance look like for independent training providers, asks Dr Sue Pember

When we see the annual summer education headlines on television and in newspapers – the GCSE exam results, back to school and university, etc – we can be tempted to make the mistake of forgetting the
ViewPoint:ongoing work of the independent sector, which works with employers, apprentices and trainees all year round. This is something we should correct.

Independent training providers are vital to the nation’s success and make up a significant part of this country’s skills provision and training, but often they only make the press when something goes wrong – and often this is a breakdown of governance. Therefore, good governance is key to achieving success, improving reputation and safeguarding the longevity of the sector.

In the world of corporate governance, achieving good governance is not a new pursuit, and debates as to what it looks like have been raging for many years; when it fails it can have dire effects on a company. So, like all essentially contested concepts, what we know and understand by the term “good governance” may never be fully understood, but it is now time to take that debate into the independent training sector.

Clear principles ‘are vital’ Read more

ViewPoint: New Approach to Funding Apprenticeships will Provide Better Value for Money
September 17, 2018

A new approach to funding apprenticeships will provide better value for money so that people can benefit from the training opportunities on offer and progress in their careers, says Anne Milton writing in FE Week.

I have spoken a lot about the important changes we are making to improve the quality of apprenticeships in this country.

 One of the biggest changes has been to introduce apprenticeship standards – new, high-quality apprenticeships replacing the older “frameworks”. I’m really pleased that the number of people starting these apprenticeships has increased by almost 1,000 per cent in the last year. Of those starting apprenticeships only 2.5 per cent were on standards this time last year, and now it’s over 40 per cent.

Apprenticeship standards are designed by employers themselves. By putting employers in the driving seat, we make sure that apprentices receive the training they need and make sure people have the skills businesses are crying out for, so they can get on and grow their career.

Since its creation in April 2017, the Institute for Apprenticeships has been responsible for managing the development of these new apprenticeship standards. Their work includes advising me about the right funding level for each new standard that is approved.

Read more

ViewPoint: Is Age Just a Number?
September 11, 2018

Written by John-Claude Hesketh Managing Partner at global executive search firm Marlin Hawk.

The plight to increase workplace diversity has gained incredible momentum amongst companies of all sizes and sectors over the past decade.

What’s more, we are seeing business leaders working harderJohn-Claude Hesketh, Managing Partner at global executive search firm Marlin Hawk than ever to tackle the issue right from the start of the hiring process.

There is still a long way to go, but while we drive the diversity conversation forward, there remains an entire demographic we are in danger of leaving out of the picture even though they make up over 30% of the UK’s workforce: the over 50s.

According to the Chartered Management Institute, the UK will need “1.9 million new, well trained and highly skilled managers” in key leadership positions by 2024. Yet recent government research has revealed that there are up to one million individuals in the 50-64 age bracket whose potential to fill these roles are going unrealised, despite their ambitions to get back into the workplace.

In an increasingly digital age it is only natural for these patterns to emerge as organisations look to entice the younger CEOs and CTOs, believing that because of their age they can drive innovation, and focus more on making workplaces ‘Millennial-friendly’. However, this is not necessarily the case, and it is becoming clear that things need to change in order for us to truly begin tackling the issue of age bias from the top down. Read more

ViewPoint: Part-Time Work Now More Empowering for Women
September 3, 2018

The UK must recognise the skills and talents that young people working part-time can bring to the workforce, according to Rachel Muller-Heyndyk co-founder and COO of Job Today Polina Montano.

“There’s a chance that the person serving your coffee at the weekend might be one of the CEOs of the future,” she told HR magazine.

“Technology is fundamentally changing the way the younger generation thinks about jobs, and it’s important for us to support our youth and what they need. The way that young women [in particular] work has changed dramatically over the past 50 years; they’re far more entrepreneurial, they’re tech-savvy, and they’re really shaping the industry of tomorrow.”

Montano’s points echo research by Henley Business School showing that there has been a surge in the number of people running their own businesses outside of their day jobs. Read more

International ViewPoint: Keep Your Day Job but Everyone Needs a Side Project
August 24, 2018

The following was written by Aytekin Tank – the founder and CEO of JotForm, the easiest online form builder. JotForm was ranked in the 2016 Entrepreneur 360™ List, an annual ranking of the most entrepreneurial private companies in the U.S

What do abstract expressionist art and virtual reality have in common? They were both pioneered as side projects.

Jackson Pollock was a school janitor by day and spent after-hours working on his illustrious drip paintings. With a full-time job at USC, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey spent evenings in his garage building the future of virtual reality.

And they’re in good company. Google, Twitter, Buffer, Todoist, Space X, Apple, Product Hunt, Trello: these are just a few of the hugely successful businesses who started their lives as an experiment — moulded and polished in off-the-clock minutes — while “real work” carried on in the backdrop. With solid internet access, a little time and a lot of devotion, a seed of curiosity can flourish into something groundbreaking. Side projects inspire. Side projects energize. Side projects change lives. What’s stopping you?

Take it from me.

Read more

ViewPoint: Should we Consider Delaying Full-Time Work Until 40?
August 20, 2018

The following by Linda Nazareth, the principal of Relentless Economics and senior fellow for economics and population change at the Macdonald Laurier Institute, was first published in The Globe and Mail.

It’s all pretty predictable. You finish school, find a job, go to your friends’ weddings, then your own. You all have kids, you are crazy busy with work and you start to count down to retirement.

Retirement probably comes around your mid-60s, although maybe a bit later if you are either particularly committed to your job or particularly cash strapped. It may be a bit earlier if you were a really good saver, or started a tech firm, or were
smart enough to pick parents who set up a trust fund for you.

But what would happen if we were to turn the whole thing on its head? After all, the old model was based on a set of parameters that are rapidly changing. As recently as 1960, a Canadian man reaching the age of 65 could figure on living another 13 years, while a woman could expect to live for 16 more. Now, that has been bumped up to 19 years for a man and 22 for a woman, and, as we know, many are beating those estimates.

So if everyone’s lifespan is getting longer (and hopefully healthier), maybe we should think about how traditional work lives could change. Some figure this should simply mean everyone working a couple of more decades, which would give them more income in the years when they are indeed retired. That may be appealing to some but certainly not all, especially those younger people who will resent the “grey ceiling” that is blocking their entry to the labour market.

Read more

ViewPoint: Ensuring Young People Have the ‘Best Possible’ Careers Advice by Anne Milton
August 8, 2018
As the Department for Education announces plans to take action against schools that aren’t complying with the ‘Baker clause, Anne Milton urges providers to contact her directly with their experiences, and outlines what else the government is doing to ensure young people have the best possible careers advice. 


Last March I wrote in FE Week about how important it is that schools and colleges let students know about all the amazing opportunities in technical education and apprenticeships there are after GCSEs.

It’s not just about higher education, and I’m determined to continue changing that perception. I don’t want one route to a career to be considered better than any other. A levels and full-time academic degrees at our world class universities are right for some people. But for others, T Levels, apprenticeships, or level 4 or 5 qualifications can give them the skills they need to get the jobs they want.

GCSE and A level results days are just round the corner. Young people across the country are making important choices about their future. The significant role parents, colleges and schools play in those choices is clear. They can really have a big influence on the people looking to them for guidance and support. After all, it is their responsibility too.

Read more

ViewPoint: Prison Education and Employment by Seetec’s Director of Justice Nigel Bennett.
August 7, 2018

With repeated re-offending estimated to cost the UK economy £15 billion a year, prison education and employment could be a smart investment by the government, providing it gets it right, writes Seetec’s Director of Justice Nigel Bennett.

Teaching prisoners valuable job skills makes smart economic sense. It reduces the chances of re-offending and provides a better equipped labour supply for employers.

The evidence is clear: if a prisoner gets a job after leaving prison, they are less likely to offend. According to a government report, the re-offending rate is more than twice as high among former prisoners who do not enter formal employment.

But job opportunities can be scarce and limited on release from prison.

Changes ahead

From April 2019, governors will have greater autonomy over decisions made in prisons to match training and work more closely to the needs of the local labour market.

Governor-led commissioning is an exciting opportunity to increase prisoners’ engagement with education to improve their outcomes. Read more

ViewPoint: RoATP Consultation & Refresh: What Happens Next by Jim Carley
August 6, 2018

It’s been nine months since the most recent RoATP application window shut, and we’ve since been waiting with bated breath for news about how the register may re-open and be refreshed.

RoATP has been widely criticised for enabling too many providers to register, creating an administrative burden for both the ESFA and Ofsted alkeJim Carley, Managing Director, Carley Consult Ltd

Too many seemingly new and untested providers qualified whilst, in contrast, other high performing and outstanding providers struggled to navigate the process. All the talk now is about how the ESFA intend to consolidate the register, but that may be a far harder exercise to pull off than it sounds.

The ESFA have indicated that they will launch some form of consultation exercise in terms of how the register may be refreshed, with a view to potential new application window later in the year.

This may all hinge, however, on how in-depth such a consultation exercise proves to be in practice, and how significant the scope of the resultant refresh might be. So, let’s consider a few of the square pegs which the ESFA may potentially have to fit into round holes.

Square Pegs, Round Holes

First off, we need to remember that RoATP is a procurement tool, whereby registration is a prerequisite to receive apprenticeship funding. RoATP has to operate within the parameters of the Public Contract Regulations 2015. This means that commissioning must be open, impartial and transparent.

Read more

ViewPoint: Do Personality Tests Have Their Place at Work?
August 1, 2018

The following ViewPoint was written by Jim Bright, Professor of Career Education and Development at ACU and owns Bright and Associates, a career management consultancy. 

Are personality tests nothing more than motherhood statements and astrology? Well, that is the depressing conclusion that my colleague Caitlin Fitzsimmons came to writing for Fairfax Media (Are Personality tests like Myers-Briggs just corporate astrology? June 27).

This is, to say the least, a little unfair because asking the broad question ‘‘are personality tests just rubbish’’ is not very helpful. You may as well ask ‘‘are Mondays rubbish’’ or ‘‘is laughing nasty’’. The only sensible answer, is ‘‘it depends’’. Some Mondays can be wonderful, perhaps for some people Mondays are their favourite day of the week.

It should not be in the least surprising that there are some ‘‘tests’’ out there that have little or no value. Most free ‘‘quizzes’’ found in magazines and online – of the ‘‘20 questions that determine your personality’’ kind are almost all nothing more than entertaining diversions for those with too much time on their hands. They should be taken as seriously as a plastic fortune fish curling in your palm, or, for that matter, palm readings. The technical term for such things is ‘‘utter crap’’.

However, just because some ‘‘tests’’ fall into this category, it is a mistake and illogical to generalise that all tests of any kind are of no value. Critics are likely to argue that tests are not subject to regulation and therefore there is no quality control. However, this is not correct. There are well established criteria to establish the relevance and accuracy of a test. The branch of psychology, psychometrics, that relates to psychological measurement and accuracy has been around for a century.

There are two key criteria (and many that flow from these) that must be considered in determining the value of a test. These are called validity and reliability. Reliability relates to the ability of a test to provide the same results when the same person is tested on two or more occasions within a reasonably short period of time (think weeks or months). A highly reliable measure is a ruler – if used by a moderately skilled person it will record the same result when measuring the width of a piece of A4 every time, with only minor variations due to things like the paper moving, or the angle of the ruler varying slightly.

When good quality tests are developed they are checked to ensure they have high reliability so that they measure accurately like a ruler.

Read more

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