Dr Sam Parrett OBE, CEO and Group Principal, London & South East Education Group
2020/21 has been an extraordinary year for many reasons - not least with FE and skills getting top billing in today’s Queen’s Speech.
Rarely has there been a time when so much focus has been put on education and training for older teenagers and adults. However, this is clearly reflecting the huge role our sector is being primed to play in the post-Covid recovery.
Coming hot on the heels of the Government’s ‘Skills for Jobs’ White Paper, I’m hopeful that FE may now get the recognition it deserves for the tireless work it has done (and indeed continues to do) to drive social mobility and change people’s lives.
With the pandemic having a catastrophic effect on the livelihoods of so many people, Boris Johnson is absolutely right with his intention to ‘put rocket fuel’ into his ‘levelling-up agenda’.
Education and giving people access to the skills training they need to secure employment is key to a thriving economy.
It may have taken a pandemic to get here, but the Lifetime Skills Guarantee is to be celebrated. It will enable thousands of adults, of all ages and backgrounds, to access a range of courses and improve their career prospects. Employers will in turn be able to better fill their skills gaps and grow their businesses.
The Skills Accelerator programme should also be warmly welcomed, building on the crucial partnerships already being formed between colleges and employers. Again, this is not necessarily a new concept to the majority of the FE sector, but the recognition of its importance is significant.
Today, the life-changing impact of adult education is being put in the spotlight. It is most certainly the sector’s time to shine, but efforts must be focused on the long term - far beyond today’s headlines.