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UK Employers Urged to Upskill Workers
November 26, 2019

As businesses around the world race to upskill their workforces, City & Guilds Group warns that UK employers risk being left behind

UK employers must do more to upskill their workforces or risk lagging behind employers in other parts of the world, according to City & Guilds Group.

It surveyed 6,500 employees and 1,300 employers across 13 international markets and found significant differences in L&D investment in different parts of the globe.

The research showed that employers in developing countries with rapidly emerging economies are among the most likely to ramp up investment in upskilling their workforce in the near future, compared to developed economies such as the UK.

A significant proportion of Indian (92%) and Kenyan (78%) employers predicted a net increase in L&D investment in the next 12 months, compared to just 54% of employers in the UK. 

This is concerning considering only 13% of UK employees would rate the L&D opportunities at their organisation over the past year as very effective, compared to 31% of employees in India, researchers said.

When asked about skills, 71% of employees globally recognised that the skills they need to do their job will change in the next three to five years. However, only 66% of UK workers think their employer is keeping pace with these changing skills.

UK employers had a more positive outlook, with three-quarters (75%) saying they’re confident they have the skilled staff they need for the next three to five years. 

This highlights a worrying gap between employer and employee perceptions which could lead to lower retention rates, poor performance and opportunities as for employees to seek out organisations which can better meet their training needs.

John Yates, group director for corporate learning at City & Guilds Group, said the research shows that upskilling is less of a priority in the UK than he hoped. 

“Businesses worldwide are navigating a period of immense transformation – and this is particularly evident in emerging economies where organisations are ramping up their investment in L&D as they embrace technology and hone the skills required to compete on a global stage. 

“However, our study shows investment in skills is less of an immediate priority for employers in the UK – putting us at risk of lagging behind other, more future-focused countries,” he said.

He urged employers to listen to workers’ needs on training and development: “With the workforce becoming increasingly mobile – and the influx of overseas talent crucial to the future of British businesses – UK employers cannot afford complacency. 

“Employers need to listen to their workers’ training needs and ensure they continue to focus on upskilling or risk losing talent to other markets who are making this a priority. Equipping workforces with the skills to succeed in the future is a marathon, not a sprint, but those who overlook the importance of skills investment risk dropping out of the race altogether.”

The study also found that employers in developing economies are feeling the impact of technological advances in the workplace most acutely.

While just 25% of employers in the US and 42% in the UK recognise the impact of digital transformation on their business, this rose to 65% of Kenyan and 62% of Indian employers. Equally, when it comes to automation and AI, the majority of employers surveyed in Malaysia (60%) and India (58%) found this to be a major driver of change, compared to just 27% of employers in the UK.

Paul Grainger, co-director of the centre for post-14 education and work and head of enterprise and innovation for the department of education, practice and society (EPS) at UCL, said technology can help to support the changing workforce. 

“The foreseeable future is likely to be dominated by emerging digital technologies. These can help individuals and communities to grow, become more agile, develop skills and network with a wider, global community,” he said.

“As these technologies are able to transcend borders, they help organisations and the communities in which they are based to adapt to the evolving needs of the community and the world at large. They support agility. And as workplace change is increasingly rapid, it is likely that those regions actively engaged in emerging markets will be better placed to manage the tensions between flexibility and predictability.”

AoC’s Cath Sezen Discusses the Progress of T Levels and What the Future Could Bring
November 25, 2019

FE News podcast with Cath Sezen, Senior Policy Manager – Further Education with the Association of Colleges. Cath chats about the T Level programme to date and what the future developments could hold.

Podcast with AoC's Cath Sezen on T Levels


ESFA Update: 20 November 2019

Latest information and actions from the Education and Skills Funding Agency for academies, schools, colleges, local authorities and further education providers.


ESFA Update further education: 20 November 2019

ESFA Update academies: 20 November 2019

ESFA Update local authorities: 20 November 2019

Items for further education
Actionsubcontractor declaration for adult delivery, including apprenticeships and traineeships, and for the first time, for 16 to 19 provision
Informationsubmission of college financial returns
Informationbuilding component reminder
Items for academies
Actionprepare now for TPECG supplementary fund claims
Reminderpensions re-enrolment
Informationupdated high needs allocated place numbers and dedicated schools grant (DSG) allocations 2019 to 2020
Informationbuilding component reminder
Items for local authorities
Actionprepare now for TPECG supplementary fund claims
Informationupdated high needs allocated place numbers and dedicated schools grant (DSG) allocations 2019 to 2020
Informationbuilding component reminder

Published 20 November 2019

The Art of Cracking the Interview: A Job Seeker’s Story
November 20, 2019

By Amit Kalra, Guest Contributor.

Until a few months back, the behavioural interview process had proved to be the Achilles’ heel in my professional journey. Being an immigrant to Canada, and new to the process of job hunting in North America, I couldn’t manage to figure out exactly what the hiring managers wanted from me. I had been rigorously applying to positions and I was getting invitations to interviews, but ultimately, I wasn’t chosen as the successful candidate.

Failure after failure to crack the secret of the interview process had created some serious self-doubts about my abilities. Ironically, I experienced so many rejections that the fear of failure ceased to be a concern in my mind. This was the only silver lining to emerge from an otherwise discouraging period.

I realized there was an urgent need for some deep self-reflection. It was during this period of introspection that I discovered things about myself that had been hidden from my conscious mind. I had been making the job search all about ME. I had been approaching interviews with the mindset of, “This is going to be my dream job!” I know now that I should have been asking myself, “How do I become this company’s dream candidate?” Rather than focusing on achieving what wanted, which was to be hired, I realized that I needed to focus my efforts on becoming the candidate that would leave the employer with no doubt that I was the new hire they had to have.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to go through this self-reflection alone. I was blessed to have a wonderful mentor in my career coach at Success Skills Center in Winnipeg. She kept me motivated and on track throughout my journey.

I learned that preparation for an interview is exactly like a deep meditation exercise. If willing to be completely honest, job seekers have the opportunity to uncover answers to the most complicated questions about themselves such as, “Who am I?” and “What’s my purpose?” Theseare the things an interviewer really wants to know.

Instead of cramming to memorize a few repetitive responses, presenting authentic answers to interview questions creates an interesting exchange where one can bring his or her personality, uniqueness, values, and qualities to the table. As job seekers, there are two ways we can approach interview questions: we can present just like the majority of the other candidates, or, we can open up our personality so that the listener is drawn in and becomes a “fan.”

As an old saying wisely states, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” For me, the first step was to arouse the curiosity of the potential employer via my résumé and cover letter in order to secure an interview.

The next step came into play during the interview when I was able to discuss what I would bring to the employer. The job description acted as a guiding path for me; every single word helped to project a picture of the company’s ideal candidate. I took my time and read through each job posting very carefully.

While scrutinizing the posting, experiences and accomplishments from my career history started to form in my mind. I selected the best of my past work and prepared my stories, each with a positive outcome that benefited my employer. The more I practiced, the stronger the connection became between my mind and heart. “Self-bragging” is an art and to make it compelling is part of the preparation that’s required before an interview. Believe me, a fully prepared mind works like a magnet. It doesn’t just attract and hold the attention of the interviewer, but I observed that it seems to go beyond that to enthrall the person.

In a behavioural interview, not only is the interviewer trying to discover how the potential candidate reacts to different situations, he or she is also scrutinizing the candidate’s personality. Among other things, they watch for signs of passion, clarity of thought, positive attitude, and a sense of commitment and responsibility.

Questions like how you acted when you experienced a work conflict or how you handled criticism are not hypothetical ones; vague replies don’t cut it. Answers have to be specific and authentic. No one expects job candidates to be superhumans liked by everyone in the workplace, and who receive only praise and appreciation for work they do. In these interviews I saw the value of my preparation. I was able to deliver specific, relevant answers that directly addressed the questions. My responses were interesting and portrayed a picture of me as someone who was focused and possessed deep self-understanding. It may sound cliché, but the STAR technique worked wonders for me.

In a nutshell, interviewers are human beings just like the rest of us. Their role is to hire a candidate who fits the role and the culture and will make significant contributions to the betterment of the company. So, here is our opportunity to present as the “dream candidate,” showing who we are, what we can do, and what we can be.

I am delighted to report that I now sit on the other side of the table in my role as a Talent Acquisition Advisor for a leading aerospace company. Everything I learned in my own career journey is what I now watch and listen for in the candidates I interview.

To paraphrase part of a speech once made by Mr. Obama; “We are not bound to win, but we are bound to be true. We are not bound to succeed, but we are bound to let whatever light we have shine.”

As an interviewee, I believe that my demonstrations of being a truthful, authentic, prepared candidate who allowed his personality to shine through are what ultimately landed me a job I love.

AELP Fears re ESFA Subcontracting Ban
November 19, 2019

The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) has today recommended a new, more “robust approach” to subcontracting in an effort to avoid an outright ban.

Subcontracting in FE, the practice of one provider paying another to deliver the training, has never been far from scandal and controversy. It has already been banned for advanced learner loan funded courses.

AELP fear funding agency considering outright subcontracting ban

In what the AELP describes as a “last chance saloon” for subcontracting apprenticeships and adult education budget funding, its chief executive, Mark Dawe, claims “by incorporating the recommendations in our submission into its rules, the agency can avoid ministers demanding a ban”.

The ESFA announced plans last month for a radical overhaul of its subcontracting rules amid high-profile cases of fraud, while Ofsted has launched research into the practice.

In its submission, the AELP said the “vast majority” of subcontracting is “high quality” and officials must not take a “damagingly blunt” approach to address the behaviours of a small number of providers.

The requirement and expectations of main providers who subcontract out government funding should be “much more robust” in order to ensure integrity.

AELP has produced a checklist of the “minimum expectations” of the main provider, which they say is significantly above and beyond the current ESFA rules and “should be adopted across the sector”.

This includes: acceptable fees, charges and additional services, quality monitoring and quality assurance, MIS, audit and ILR services, and contracting management (read the full report here).

The association says there also needs to be clarity on the “different types of subcontracting and what is and what isn’t a subcontract to help alleviate confusion across the sector, including with employers”.

AELP has used its submission paper to again call again for fees and charges not to exceed 20 per cent of the funding – a recommendation that has been adopted by the Greater London Authority and other mayoral combined authorities with devolved adult education funding.

This maximum cap would “block the profiteering of a small number of providers who commoditise their privileged access to government funding and ensure value for money”.

AELP adds that there should be a clear policy on management fees and charges being only applicable to core funding and not additional funding “designed to support specific groups of learners or to support certain additional needs”.

ESFA should also procure funding from providers that is “continuously subcontracted out on a transitional basis”, the association’s submission said.

“Recent examples of subcontracting malpractice do not justify at all a call for an outright ban on subcontracting in the sector, but a much more robust approach on the part of the ESFA and Ofsted would make a huge difference in stopping further examples occurring,” Dawe (pictured) said.

“Over the last ten years, AELP feels that the ESFA has rather dragged its heels in making the required changes needed in its funding rules to put the issue to bed and we are probably now in the last chance saloon.”

He added: “Let’s have no more prevarication around this issue which has been damaging the sector’s reputation for far too long. Change the rules now.”

Eileen Milner, the chief executive of the ESFA, sent a sector-wide letter last month warning of rule changes to subcontracting and that she will take strong action against any provider that abuses the system.

She said there are currently 11 live investigations into subcontracting, with issues underpinning them ranging in seriousness from “complacency and mismanagement”, through to matters of “deliberate and systematic fraud”.

She revealed the government will review its current subcontracting rules later this year.

Ofsted’s research will mainly look at whether management fees, which have controversially grown to as much as 40 per cent on subcontract values, are having a detrimental impact on learners’ education.

There have been a number of high-profile subcontracting scandals in recent years. The most recent involved Brooklands College and resulted in the ESFA demanding a £20 million clawback.

Careermap Broadcasting LIVE on Friday 22nd November
November 18, 2019

The following is a promotion from WorldSkills UK LIVE and CareermapLive

We would like to invite you to the most exciting and largest skills, apprenticeships and careers event! 

The event connects employers, apprentices, pupils and teachers to an exhilarating opportunity. You’ll get to listen to spotlight talks from current apprentices, hear from inspirational figures and watch demonstrations.  

Teachers and career leaders can also find out about resources and gain insights into new ideas, interesting careers and qualifications to support pupils to make well-informed decisions. Not able to make it? Don’t worry! CareermapLive will be broadcasting live and interactive from the event on Friday 22 November.

Don’t delay, book your tickets today to avoid disappointment!

Our live broadcast is open to everyone from educators to pupils, parents and guardians. This is an excellent opportunity to give young people a chance to meet employers and get an insight into the world of work.

We understand that not everyone will be able to make it to the NEC in Birmingham, which is why you’ll be able to join from your classroom on Careermap!
ESFA Priority Webinars
November 15, 2019

In order to support smaller employers joining the apprenticeship service, the ESFA are hosting dedicated webinars for training providers and intermediaries.

They will not be able to include policy information or provide Q and A sessions due to pre-election restrictions.

Live / Upcoming Webinars

NOV 26 12:00 PM – 12:45 PM GMT Training providers: How to support smaller employers to access the apprenticeship service

NOV 29 12:00 PM – 12:45 PM GMT Intermediaries: How to support smaller employers to access the apprenticeship service

DEC 05 12:00 PM – 12:45 PM GMT Training providers: How to support smaller employers to access the apprenticeship service

DEC 11 12:00 PM – 12:45 PM GMT Training providers: How to support smaller employers to access the apprenticeship service

ViewPoint: Zero-Hours Contracts – A Short-Term Fix, but not a Long-Term Strategy
November 15, 2019

By Katie Maguire – Partner, Devonshires Solicitors LLP 

Despite adverse news coverage, zero hours contracts can be a useful tool for both employers and workers. More and more employers are using zero hours contracts incorrectly, however, leaving themselves wide open to legal challenges.

employment contract

Outside of employment circles, you would be forgiven for thinking that zero hours contracts are a fairly new phenomenon. In reality, of course, this could not be further from the truth. Casual working arrangements with no guaranteed working hours have been around for many years.

In recent years, due to significant media coverage zero hours contracts and the emergence of the so-called gig economy, it has almost become a dirty word.

Zero hours contracts can be a useful resource for both businesses and workers, but only if they are used correctly. 

Trade unions have condemned their use as a means of abusing low-income workers, providing no rights, salary or job security. The Labour Party has even pledged to ban them ‘to make sure every employee has a guaranteed number of hours a week’.

When used in the right way, however, there is no reason that they should not work for both businesses and workers.

Unfortunately, as an employment lawyer, I am seeing more and more cases where businesses are using zero hours contracts incorrectly – and suffering the costs as a consequence.

What are zero hours contracts for?

In a nutshell they are designed to be a short term, temporary fix for businesses to take on workers on a casual/ad hoc basis with no guarantee of work. This is invaluable for engaging people for last minute events, for filling temporary staff shortages or when needing extra staff on call.

With zero hours contracts, a business is not obliged to provide any minimum working hours, and in return, the worker is not obliged to accept any work offered.

On the face of it this arrangement is beneficial for both parties as it allows flexibility with no obligation.

There have been a number of issues over the years, however, that has led to these contracts being criticised.

In 2016 a review by Sports Direct illustrated a number of failings that led to the company apologising for conditions in its warehouses and promising to offer shop staff guaranteed hours.

If a business uses zero hours contracts sparingly, on an ad hoc basis and to fill gaps in employment, that is acceptable as that is what they are intended for.

Other employers have faced similar wrath in the media and last year the Taylor Review and the Good Work Plan gave workers more rights, such as the right to an itemised pay slip and the right to a written statement of terms.

To address the problem, termed ‘one-side flexibility’, the government will introduce a right for all workers (with the exception of some care workers in Wales) to request a more predictable and stable contract after 26 weeks of service.

Plumber Gary Smith won his Supreme Court case against his employers Pimlico Plumbers last year, despite being self-employed for six years. This offered gig economy workers further hope that they too would be entitled to further rights.

Despite the criticism the use of zero hours contracts has increased by 358% since 2012. Zero hours contract workers represent almost 3% of the UK workforce. This in itself shows that zero hours contracts still have a useful place in employment circles, but only if they are being used correctly.

What are employers doing wrong?

In recent months I have seen a stark increase in the number of zero hours workers who are bringing claims asserting that they are in fact employees and have been unfairly dismissed following the termination of their zero hour contract.

They are saying ‘I’m not a worker, I’m an employee’, and challenging the status of the zero hours contract. We are especially seeing this when a business has a bank of casual workers they can call upon. In this scenario, businesses should only use bank workers on an ad hoc basis when they have a temporary shortage of staff. For example, when they need holiday cover or they have somebody off sick.

Unfortunately, this has not happened and instead, businesses have been using their bank workers to cover permanent positions. For example, some businesses have been giving people on zero hours contracts the same shifts on a regular basis, i.e. every week or every month. As a result, the workers have then developed a pattern of working the same shifts on a regular basis. This then opens the business up to the challenge that the worker is, in fact, an employee.

One person had been working in the same position since 2012 and, even though they had long gaps in the work carried out, argued that they were an employee and brought a claim for unfair dismissal.

Ultimately in a case like this, the Employment Tribunal will need to consider whether an employment relationship exists, which is a question of fact. It will be necessary to look at the terms of the contract as well as the conduct of the parties, i.e. what the reality of the hours of work is and whether there is a regular pattern.

As a result, even if the contract has been drafted in a way that only intends to create a worker contract, it is possible for a Tribunal to find that the individual is in fact an employee, particularly following a period of regular work.

So what should employers do?

Zero hours contracts can be a useful resource for both businesses and workers, but only if they are used correctly. To do so, organisations need to realise that they are a short-term fix and not a long-term solution.

If a business uses zero hours contracts sparingly, on an ad hoc basis and to fill gaps in employment, that is acceptable as that is what they are intended for. If, however, they are using them to fill the same shifts time and time again, then they need to reassess what they are doing and should consider recruiting a permanent employee to fill the vacancy they have. If they continue to use these contracts, then they may find themselves unexpectedly facing legal action.

ESFA Update: 13 November 2019

Latest information and actions from the Education and Skills Funding Agency for academies, schools, colleges, local authorities and further education providers.


ESFA Update further education: 13 November 2019

ESFA Update academies: 13 November 2019

Items for further education
Actionregister for our webinars on accessing the apprenticeship service for small and medium employers (SMEs)
Actionsubmit your college finance record for 2018 to 2019
Remindersubcontractor declaration for adult delivery, including apprenticeships and traineeships, and for the first time, for 16 to 19 provision
Items for academies
Final remindersubmit your school resource management self-assessment tool checklist
Informationacademies accounts return Skype call and web chat schedule

There are no items for local authorities this week.

Published 13 November 2019

Less than the cost of a cup of coffee is being spent on providing careers advice to young people in our schools and colleges
November 13, 2019

On the 12th November at the national Careers England Summit in London a report will be published which reveals that schools are unable to provide young people with the careers advice and guidance they need.

The report shows that very little of the money the DfE are spending on careers actually goes to the schools and the people working with and supporting young people.

The report shows that despite schools now recognising the vital importance of careers provision they are unable to deliver this due to a lack of funding:

  • Only 10% have adequate funding
  • 75% have insufficient, limited or no funding
  • It highlights around a 5 th of secondary schools receive less than £2K in funding per annum. Given average size of secondary school is 1000 this equates to circa £2 per student – less than the cost of purchasing a cup of coffee!
  •  About a third of secondary schools receive less than £5k per annum – £5 per students.
  •  Yet 84% of schools “strongly agree” or “agree” that careers provision in their schools is now a high priority.

TES person of the year 2018, Jules White, started the WorthLess? Campaign in 2015 because he felt frustrated that children were not getting the full range of opportunities they needed and deserved. At the same time, the Department for Education was telling everyone that we’d never had it so good and there was “more money going into our schools than ever before”.

As the Government rolls out the second wave of Career Hubs over the next 12 months, which aim to provide local, targeted careers and advice and guidance to young people, the Local Government Association is concerned that the Hubs will support only 1,300 schools and colleges and only reach a fraction of young people, meaning the Government careers advice scheme will fail to reach thousands of young people.

deirdre hughes100x100

Dr Deirdre Hughes OBE, former Chair, National Careers Council, England said:

“We need to provide funding direct to schools to enable them to employ careers professionals to provide much more support for young people. How can it be right that less than the cost of a cup of coffee is being spent on providing careers advice to young people in our secondary schools and academies?

“This generation are seriously missing out. Clearly ill-informed career decisions from an early age have long-term cost implications for both the individual and society as a whole.” 

John Yarham 100x100

John Yarham, Interim CEO of The Careers & Enterprise Company said:

“We agree with this survey’s finding that careers provision in schools is now a high priority, with Careers Leaders in schools at the forefront of this improvement. The Careers Leader role is now one year old.

“Our survey with the Gatsby Charitable Foundation of 750 Careers Leaders shows:

  • 88% say their role is having a positive impact on young peoples’ outcomes
  • 81% feel positive about the future of careers provision

“Good quality careers advice is an important element of careers support in the Gatsby best practice benchmarks and we recognise the issues that surround this, including affordability. We look forward to working with Careers Leaders to strengthen the provision of careers advice in their schools.“

The national survey of school leaders and careers professionals was undertaken by Careers England, supported by NAHT and the Worthless? Campaign – with technical input from Dr Deirdre Hughes OBE.

It aimed to identify what support, if any, is being given to schools to help them provide careers advice and guidance for young people. There were a total of 191 responses.