The leader of the Liberal Democrats, Vince Cable and the National Union of Students’ president Shakira Martin have today launched the Students Shaping Post-16 Skills Report.
The project was born out of the lack of consultation and involvement of students in the wave of reforms to the FE sector. The report sets out a range of policy recommendations and key critical points in relation to the Post 16 Skills Plan.
It outlines a clear vision for what students believe makes excellent vocational teaching and learning with recommendations for college and work based education covering student voice, citizenship education and lifelong learning.
It is an issue that is personally important for both Vince and NUS president Shakira Martin, who themselves have their own experiences of FE. The report calls for a more ‘student-centred’ approach and makes the case for learner voice to be embedded throughout the vocational and technical sector.
Vince Cable said:
"I was delighted to be asked to undertake this project with the NUS and I thank them for the work they are doing advocating for improvements in Further Education.
"Improving the quality and standing of FE is something I have always felt strongly about, both on a personal level, as FE is something many members of my family have benefited from, and on a political level.
"We cannot underestimate the importance of this sector in ensuring we continue to grow and develop skills and industries across the country.
“As a Minister in the Coalition Government I was able to take steps to improve and expand the apprenticeships programme. But as this research shows, there is still a long way to go to ensure that Further Education is truly accessible to all, and that students feel they get a rounded, high quality experience which delivers tangible benefits to them in the world of work.”
NUS president Shakira Martin said:
“While we welcome many of the proposals in the Skills Plan, the discussions we have had with our members make it clear the government have really missed an opportunity to fully review the needs of further education in the round, not just skills and technical education.
“Through our roundtable discussions with students and sector experts we have developed a comprehensive set of policy recommendations that focus on what students want from their education, including a better careers IAG offer, civic education and representation and input across all levels of decision making in the sector.
"We will continue to challenge the government when it solely focuses on what employers want. While employers play a role, to truly understand the wider social, cultural and economic impact that further education system to a wide range of people, students voices must be at the centre of policy debate.”