How further education can support employers in our sector in developing a highly skilled workforce

How further education can support employers in our sector in developing a highly skilled workforce

Colin Huffen, MCIMSPA, strategic lead for policy, AoC Sport
Matt Rhodes, policy officer, AoC Sport

Introduction

With over 300 further education (FE) colleges training some 80,000 students a year in sport and activity programmes, CIMSPA and the Association for Colleges (Sport) have launched a partnership in order to maximise the FE sector’s unique potential in supporting future and current members of the sport and activity workforce.

Aims

  •  To highlight great practice in the delivery of apprenticeships and employer-led study programmes.
  • To outline future plans to improve partnerships between colleges and employers.
 Colin Huffen

Colin Huffen

Session context

Representing 125 colleges, AoC Sport leads college sport and physical activity. A quiz prompted delegates to think about FE provision and how it varies across the college sector.

Did you know, as of August 2015, there are 335 colleges in England, with 773,000 16-18 year olds choosing to study at college, as compared with 442,000 who stay at school?

Getting more employers involved in the design of the curriculum is key to ensuring students are provided with the right skills
— Colin Huffen

The Department for Education (DfE) introduced 16-19 study programmes in August 2013. All post-16 students are required to follow a study programme that is tailored to their prior learning by age 16 and to their future career aspirations.

Although there is a rise in learners choosing to study academically or vocationally at college, engagement between colleges and industry employers hasn’t been great.

There are however pockets of good practice such as that with Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club. AoC Sport brokered a partnership between the club, as the employer, and a network of colleges in the West Midlands to develop an engaging curriculum equipping prospective employees with the skills and knowledge to secure employment post- graduation. Getting more employers involved in the design of the curriculum is key to ensuring students are provided with the right skills and knowledge to professionally progress.

Launched in June 2015, “Fit for sport, fit for work, fit for life” is a strategy that runs for five years (2015-2020) and aims to encourage every college student to participate in sport or physical activity on a regular basis. Partnership working is key to achieving these aims, so AoC Sport’s engagement with CIMSPA, industry employers and wider technical networks,at all levels, is crucial. Different levels of engagement are needed to keep students motivated, engaged and retained in activity. The opportunity to influence change is now – There is a want from employers to link with FE and a want from FE to engage with employers, but there is no mechanism to facilitate this.

 Matt Rhodes

Matt Rhodes

AoC Sport and CIMSPA have signed an MoU whereby the partnership will help to develop and support the mechanism for effective engagement at both local and national levels.

For example: Work experience is a key component of 16-19 study programmes and should provide a real-life experience of employment, rather than just trying to keep someone occupied for a week or two. Therefore the brokerage can help facilitate engagement between employers and colleges to ensure that the work experience offered has purpose, is meaningful and provides the student with the opportunity to excel

Work experience must have purpose, be meaningful and provide the student with the opportunity to excel
— Matt Rhodes