Research to assess preparation for and changes arising from the new FE reforms and skills policies: summary document

Research to assess preparation for and changes arising from the new FE reforms and skills policies: summary document
Document type
Corporate author(s)
Great Britain. Dept. for Business, Innovation and Skills
Date of publication
6 December 2011
BIS Briefing Papers. No. 60
People management: all aspects of managing people
Business and management
Material type

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A briefing paper gives key findings from a survey of FE colleges and training providers about recent reforms and policy changes relating to post-19 FE provision. Colleges and training organisations were mainly positive about the need to move away from mainly free, sometimes incentivised provision to fee-driven services. There were however concerns about the scale of change needed to achieve a co-funded model, and the legacy of expectation amongst learners and employers. The response of colleges and training organisations was positive in principle to the greater autonomy granted to providers and the planned reductions in bureaucracy. However the research found little evidence of change to date, and some providers expressed some concern about how far the freedoms would be implemented in practice. The reduction in public funding appeared to be a key driver of behaviour for most colleges and training organisations. Funding policy changes including the introduction of Minimum Contract Levels and the changes to adult entitlements were resulting in major reconsideration of business strategies. Given the funding context, discussions about efficiency and new business models were taking place. Contracting arrangements and mergers were being considered, with sub-contracting expected to increase sharply. There appeared to be a perception amongst those interviewed that concerns about efficiency could lead to more merger proposals. However, almost all strategic leaders emphasised that this ought not to be at the expense of local delivery points. Many colleges had also explored shared services as a route to increasing efficiency although most acknowledged that this solution is unlikely to provide all the answers. Several colleges and training organisations reported concerns about fee remission changes creating a disincentive to engage with certain priority groups including unemployed learners. However, nearly all colleges and training organisations reported established relationships with Jobcentre Plus and increasing regularity of interaction between providers and Jobcentre Plus.

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