Further education (FE) is a huge sector, yet many employers have little knowledge of what it covers, or what skills those with FE qualifications can bring to a working environment.
Further education is a term that applies to learning in colleges (traditionally as an alternative to school at 16-19), work-based learning through colleges or a private provider, and in a broader sense, any learning that takes place outside of school or university. As such, it covers a wide range of different qualifications as well as schemes such as apprenticeships.
Further education engages with over three million people each year, 80% of whom go on to work or further learning. Yet evidence shows that many employers still aren't engaging with FE properly. As the Government puts FE at the heart of its investment, now is the time for employers to take another look at what FE can offer. It means that checking a CV isn’t always as simple as looking for a degree or A Level grades – but those who only consider more traditionally academic qualifications might be missing out.
Taking on young apprentices
At a time when youth unemployment is touching the million mark, apprenticeships are booming. In 2012 more than 700,000 people were on apprenticeship programmes designed by employers.
There are more than 150 types of apprenticeships available to young people including construction, engineering, business administration, customer service, retail, care, hospitality and hair and beauty. There are more than 600 training organisations offering these apprenticeships to employers, ranging from national organisations to small, niche operators.
Upskilling existing adult members of the workforce
Any company that invests in training its existing staff is going to have a more effective and productive workforce and be more likely to retain their workers. This is why adult apprenticeships are growing apace. As well as adult apprenticeships, employers can also access stand-alone vocational qualifications and basic skills training which are packaged in a way that meets the individual company’s needs.
Recruiting unemployed people with the right skills for your business
Tens of thousands of jobseekers are being helped to find work with employers. In 2011, around 55,000 jobseekers on benefits were placed in a job by providers and a further 113,500 unemployed learners secured jobs while studying on skills programmes. The great majority of job training is demand led, based around working with employers to discover their labour market requirements and training people to fill their vacancies.
An increasing number of employers are willing to work in partnership with training organisations to offer job opportunities for individuals who are willing to overcome significant barriers that have previously prevented them from securing long-term employment. For example, ex-offenders are given the chance to improve their employability skills, their maths and English and to learn how to use computers for the first time. With the trainees encouraged to be honest with prospective employers up front about their past, businesses are giving them a new start.
Through further education, there is a great range of options for employers to choose from when it comes to satisfying skills needs. To take the first step to exploring these opportunities, the official Register of Training Organisations will list the providers that operate in your area.
Graham Hoyle OBE CCMI is chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers