2018: a year of risk and opportunity for FE
FE is used to change.
After the apprenticeship reforms dominated FE last year, we were all hoping for a little peace and quiet in 2018. But no such luck. The Government introduced the Baker Clause on 2nd of January, and by January 8th, we had a new education secretary – Damien Hinds.
It doesn't seem to be slowing down either. Brexit and GDPR are still on the horizon – and although they're not aimed directly at FE, they'll both have a big impact on the sector. There's a lot still up in the air, and these uncertain times make it difficult to plan for the months ahead. But what we do know is that big changes are still to come – that's why 2018 will be a year of risk and opportunity for FE.
The Baker Clause
2018 got off to a good start – the Baker Clause was introduced. This is a huge step for FE as it means providers can advertise their courses to pupils for the first time. It's crazy that it's taken so long, but this welcome change of policy will have a huge impact on everyone in education. FE needs to grab this opportunity by the horns and spread the word about the benefits of vocational training.
No one knows what to expect when Britain leaves the EU, and this uncertainty poses a risk to FE. Providers are concerned about losing EU staff and universities are worried about a drop in EU student numbers. With migration falling and the skills gap widening, FE has a responsibility to grow our own talent, and could risk scrutiny if the UK falls short after Brexit.
GDPR comes into play on 25th May and will affect all schools, colleges and training providers in the UK. It means organisations will be accountable for the personal data they hold and how it's stored, recorded and deleted. If they don't comply, companies could face huge fines of up to €10million or 4% of their annual turnover – whichever is greater. This is a huge risk for FE providers – so if you haven't done it already, read up on GDPR, how it will affect you, and what you can do to prepare.
Thanks to the apprenticeship reforms and the Baker Clause, FE has had a bit of a rebrand. Attitudes towards apprenticeships and vocational training have changed, which is a huge opportunity for the sector. It's not just pupils that like the sound of hands-on training – parents are onboard too. In a recent survey conducted by OneFile, we were surprised and glad to hear so much positivity about apprenticeships from people of all ages. This is a whopper of an opportunity for FE, so we need to work together to feel the buzz and spread the love.