Posted by our partners at Strategic Development Network

The learning and skills sector has been facing change on an unprecedented scale. Almost every area of our industry is experiencing new reforms, reviews and restructuring.

In the wake of the general election, we conducted a short snapshot ‘confidence index’ survey to benchmark the current level of confidence of learning and skills organisations and the key factors that will contribute to their future success. We plan to repeat the survey twice a year to track confidence in the sector.

119 individuals responded. This is what they told us:

  • Overall, respondents were marginally confident about the future
  • Over a five-year time-horizon, FE colleges are slightly more optimistic about their future than independent training providers
  • Front-line staff clearly feel most under threat and least confident in their organisation’s success, especially over the next year
  • In contrast, senior managers, and in particular mid-level managers, feel the most confident about their organisation’s success over the next year and ahead

  • The top factors affecting respondents from the sector are the reforms to apprenticeships, funding policy and systems, employer engagement, and diversifying their offer – reflecting recent instability around apprenticeship funding policy, as well as ongoing developments with area reviews and devolution
  • Providers expected their confidence to grow if there was clarity of policy and a period of stability:
    • Stability would allow providers to implement policy, conduct longer-term business planning, and have the right staff, teams and systems in place to operate effectively
    • Providers feel that there are inconsistencies between apprenticeship standards and assessment plans (industry by industry) and between apprentice assessment organisations that need reviewing
    • Clarity is required around the 20% off-the-job training rule for apprenticeships, Adult Education Budget allocations and the new technical routes / T-Levels
    • SMEs are seen as a particularly vulnerable group in their ability and capacity to engage with the new apprenticeship system, and as such clearer guidance and support is needed for this group

Enquiries about the research can be directed to tim@strategicdevelopmentnetwork.co.uk

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