Skills providers have a difficult line to tread at present, they have strong commitments to their learners and employers and want to build and maintain these relationships , maintain ongoing support and learning and ensure they continue to meet the funding and regulatory requirements that they are governed by.  Fortunately in the latter some flexibility has been shown in easing the regulatory burden for now, but many providers are in a difficult place torn between their moral and ethical considerations to their clients and issues of ongoing viability and continuity of service due to the virus pandemic.

The sector has shown its flexibility in responding to these issues in terms of moving more provision to online, but with learners furlowed, put on breaks or worst case let go, there is uncertainty re future capacities not least that in this period recruitment has almost stopped.

While managing through this period, providers are also looking to what the future might look like:

Regaining momentum – there was already inertia due to some aspects of the apprenticeship reforms and issues of funding for SMEs.  For example, the pandemic occurred just as the move towards transition to the apprenticeship service for SMEs was starting to happen.  Similarly for colleges T Levels are just about to commence. The sector will need to redouble its efforts in business development to rebuild momentum of starts and ongoing relationships.

Supporting existing yr 11 and yr 10 learners – in particular Yr 11 will need support and flexibility to ensure they follow the best pathway for them at a time when they are only receiving virtual support. Yr 10 learner will also be impacted due to the break in their learning so we need to be prepared to step up support.

Engaging employers – its likely as part of their recovery what employers might need will be significant different due to their own reprioritisation

Supporting existing learners – developing strategies to reengage learners now will help avoid attrition and loss of momentum.

Embracing the change – given the crisis has bought online learning firmly to the fore, its unlikely to go back fully – well developed blended learning is probably here to stay now, same with assessment

Recast business and strategic plans – the regulatory position will also need to respond, initially this will be risk based around viability and impact on learning, but they too will need to adapt.   Its likely that plans and priorities will also change accordingly.

We’d love to help with your thinking and planning for the future