Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

There's More to FE Than Skills

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

There's More to FE Than Skills

Article excerpt

In recent years, political focus has been firmly on 'employability', but this means the 'education' side of the sector's remit risks being ignored

It's easy to lose things when you move. Whether you're picking up the keys to a new home or packing up your desk before taking on a new job, something always goes missing.

There's one thing that disappeared when John Hayes switched jobs back in 2012 and hasn't been seen since. And that's a minister with "further education" in their title. That's not to say the sector has been ignored. Far from it. Mr Hayes' successors in the skills brief - Matt Hancock, Nick Boles and the current incumbent, Robert Halfon - have all made their presence felt.

And, on the face of it, the ministerial role's oversight of FE hasn't changed too much either. But while Mr Hayes proudly held the role of minister of state for "further education, skills and lifelong learning", the FE and lifelong learning bits subsequently dropped off.

This is about more than semantics. It reflects the shift in political focus towards, almost exclusively, employability. This perspective has taken hold in the sector. Even Niace ditched "adult and continuing education" from its title when it rebranded as the Learning and Work Institute. …

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