How to generate income, meet Study Programme requirements and engage employers to weather the FE funding crisis
This week Martin Donnelly, the permanent secretary for BIS, told the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee hearing on ‘overseeing financial sustainability in the FE sector’ that the future of the Further Education sector is likely to feature “significantly fewer” colleges.
This will not be welcome news to many working in the sector. Martin explains that they “don’t have a target” but the results of the area reviews taking place will likely, in his personal view leave us with significantly fewer colleges. As he puts it, “Our concern is that we end up with very resilient colleges able to provide a very high quality service.”
The impact of this on colleges is clear; Ofsted inspection results are going to be increasingly important as are learner destinations and grades. On top of that colleges need to be focusing on operating like businesses, generating as much income as possible whilst keeping their costs low in order to weather the storm of continued Government cuts.
We completely sympathise with the difficult time many of our partner colleges are going through and one of the pieces of advice we are giving them is that they need to start looking outwards at ways to generate income, instead of relying on looking inwards and making cuts.
By this we mean several things:
- Nurture and grow your college’s apprenticeship provision to provide a steady stream of income. Turn your college into the premier apprenticeship provider in your area and coach your learners to win prestigious apprenticeships and college leaver roles. This will not only generate income for the college but will boost its reputation: increasing learner applications and employers’ awareness of what it can offer them.
- Build links with local employers that you can use to not only benefit your learners (via work experience, mentoring and internships) but that you can utilise to generate income, either by offering them the aforementioned apprenticeships or by providing training courses for their existing employees.
With careful strategic planning colleges can also make savings in vital areas, for example:
- Use the professional social network LinkedIn as a free alumni tracking tool for life.
- Provide staff and learners with the tools to develop their own curriculum relevant networks of local employers which they can use for work experience, meeting Ofsted criteria while boosting learners’ career aspirations.
We currently help our partner colleges with all of the above, through a mix of employability events, staff or management training, strategic consultancy, Personal Career Networks training, apprenticeship provision and employer engagement services. It is our hope that by providing support and guidance based on our extensive experience of meeting Study Programme requirements for Work Experience and employability skills we can help our partners create new income streams and provide their learners with the best foundation to go out into the world of work with. If you would like to know how we can help your college generate income and develop an effective employer engagement strategy please get in touch.