Today the Association of Colleges has published a new report on the role of further education colleges in supporting unemployed people with the skills they need to progress into a good job.
We are featured in the Let Them Learn: Further education colleges’ support for the unemployed report as an excellent example. Hartlepool College has enjoyed a longstanding relationship working with Jobcentre Plus (JCP) in Hartlepool and our surrounding towns. We have a well-established partnership and ways of working enjoyed by us and JCP, with many JCP area managers getting involved in projects and acting as key contacts. Sector-based Work Academy Programmes have proven very effective for us too and the adult learners who have enrolled. Darren Hankey our Principal said, “This kind of work goes to the core of what we are all about at the College. We aim to transform our students’ lives by giving them the knowledge, skills and qualifications to progress in life. We have a long and well-established track record of doing this and this approach underlines why we’re one of the most successful colleges in the North East.”
Many excellent college-led initiatives across the country are supporting local unemployed people through work with job centres and skills initiatives, but these are not as widespread as they need to be. To make it work for employers, people at risk of becoming long-term unemployed and colleges, the Association of Colleges is calling for creating a system that embeds, incentivises, and invests in the role of colleges in supporting unemployed people on a national scale. They are arguing that the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill provides the chance for the government to make this commitment.
The report calls on the government to scrap unhelpful universal credit claimant rules that have created an ‘education vs. work’ divide. Current rules prevent people from participating in many learning or training courses if they receive unemployment benefits. This hampers progress on the government's Plan for Jobs recovery strategy, putting investment in the Lifetime Skills Guarantee out of reach to too many people. More joining up of skills and employment programmes are vital to deliver plans to ‘build back better’.
Recommendations from the Association of Colleges include:
- Reform universal credit rules so that no one is prevented from being able to access training that will help them
- Extend the Lifetime Skills Guarantee to everyone, not just those without any existing Level 3 qualifications already
- Embed the role of colleges in supporting unemployed people in the Skills and Post-Education Bill through legislation for Local Skills Improvement Plans to include partnerships with JobCentre Plus
- Set out a national strategy for the role of education and skills in supporting employment, through a cross-departmental task force with DFE, BEIS, DWP, MHCLG and provide clear progression pathways for people on current programmes like Kickstart and Restart.
Chief Executive of Association of Colleges, David Hughes said:
“The very people that should be accessing the learning and preparation for work training are the ones currently being excluded from it. Those most likely to benefit would have to give up financial support to train and learn, and with no access to other maintenance support, would likely have to forgo any chances of reskilling in order to live, eat and pay bills. Today’s report shares clear evidence that training of this kind prepares people for getting into secure, fulfilling jobs. It is entirely counterproductive to pursue a hard-line policy of restricted training while job hunting, pitting the two against each other when one is in fact the best route to the other for many.
We need a coherent system that spans education and welfare and works for those at risk of long-term unemployment. If we don’t we risk leaving people behind in efforts to boost sought after skills for employers and help combat the impact of the pandemic on jobs and the economy.”
Full Report can be read here >> https://www.aoc.co.uk/let-them-learn-report