The changes to the Ofsted Inspection Manual for September 2022 examine the contribution of FE providers to meeting skills needs and encourage them to streamline partnerships with employers and other stakeholders, and examine how staff CPD is directly aligned with the intention, the program implementation and impact.
The sub-judgment on the extent to which the FE provider meets skill needs, lies both under the ‘Quality of education‘ and the ‘Direction and management‘ main judgments.
“All providers are expected to contribute effectively to meeting the skills needs of employers and the local, regional and national economy through the range of programs they teach, the content and planning of that program and their commitment and collaboration with employers and stakeholders..”
When I met Alfred Cardonwho is responsible for learning and quality at Croydon College, he said that “Leaders need to know that things are planned based on what they know of the skills needed and that they are taught effectively.” He pointed out that “It’s easy to see where digital is here because there’s so much demand for it.”
As practitioners working in the FE and training sector, our approach to program design and delivery must be informed by our dual professionalism: pedagogy and industry expertise. Whatever industry we work in and prepare students for, we will need to stay up to date with digital. According UNEVOC-UNESCO “In technical and vocational education and training (TVET), the development of students’ digital skills and competences plays a key role in preparing them to function effectively in the digital economy and society..”
Redefining our pedagogical approaches through the effective use of new technologies will enhance the learning experience and help maximize results.
However, the contribution to the underjudgment of skills does not only take into consideration “the skills immediately necessary for employment, … but also the skills necessary to ensure the progression of students towards employment… and increased personal autonomy at all levels.” (Paragraph 295)
Soft skills, such as problem solving, creativity and communication skills – as well as critical thinking, resilience and collaboration – come to mind. However, we must not forget the basic digital skills that we all need, regardless of our age, to live, work and study in a 21st century society. According to Lloyds Digital Consumer Index 2021 an estimated 11.7 million (22%) people in the UK lack the digital skills needed for everyday life. Adults with little or no digital skills are now entitled to free training (Essential Qualifications in Digital Skills or EDSQ) and existing qualifications in functional ICT skills will be replaced by Digital Functional Skills (DFSQ) from 23 September.
According Nesta, over six million people in the UK are currently employed in occupations that are likely to change dramatically or disappear altogether by 2030 due to advances in technology and industrial change. Without immediate action from the FE sector, there is a risk that these people will be trapped in precarious, low-value, low-paying jobs – or worse, forced out of their jobs.
The new Contribution to Skills sub-judgement emphasizes the direction set in the Expenditure Review which emphasizes the effective upskilling and retraining of adults and is aligned with the FE White Paper – Skills for Employment: Lifelong Learning for Opportunity and Growth – released 22 January 2021. This recognizes the role that the FE sector must play in developing 21st century skills and aims to helping people develop the skills they need to get good jobs in the future. Emphasis is placed on lifelong learning, employer and governance focus and flexible access to learning.
So how can education service providers demonstrate their effective contribution to skills needs?
It’s about managing resources to ensure we meet skill needs:
- Highlighting feedback from employers and key stakeholders
- Map results with staff capacity profiles
- Design aligned and tailored professional development training for staff
- Evidence of how recent CPD training has informed program design and implementation
- Demonstrate how staff training in CPD has impacted learner skill sets, achievement, and destinations.
There is no doubt that digital skills, together with EdTech – how practitioners and training providers harness new technologies to improve teaching, learning and assessment – are essential to effectively contribute to meet skill needs.
If you need to tailor digital skills training and prove alignment with program intent, delivery and impact, the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) can help. The Improve the digital teaching platform hosts two main offerings: EdTech and Essential Digital Skills. In the back-end of the platform is the management dashboard, aimed at supporting suppliers’ digital learning strategies and offering efficient and traceable systems for digital staff training.
It’s the management dashboard that Alfred says is particularly valuable: “The big picture of the manager and how leaders consider what is taught and how things are taught is for me the most powerful unique selling point…Anything that would help analyze the ability of the team to provide the necessary skills and who would facilitate this would be great and worth every penny.”
A new video has been released featuring the latest features of the ETF Management Dashboard to help you plan and track your staff’s CPD strategy for digital skills and the use of educational technology (EdTech). Our CPD planning tool will allow you to set up bespoke CPD plans for your staff – individuals or groups – which you can monitor and encourage staff to complete. Our T-level CPD training or TLPD on Future Learn will also greatly support up-to-date professional skills, including our EMD course for Basic Professional English, Mathematics and Digital.
The Education and Training Foundation believes in shaping the future of the higher education and training sector through digital capabilities.
Vikki is currently involved in shaping the higher education and training sector through digital capabilities. She tweets @vikkiliogier.
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