Press release

16–19 study programmes – UKCES responds to Ofsted thematic review

The UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) today welcomed the publication of Ofsted’s thematic review of study programmes for 16 – 19 year olds.

The UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) today welcomed the publication of Ofsted’s thematic review of study programmes for 16 – 19 year olds.

Nigel Whitehead, Commissioner at UKCES and Group Managing Director, Programmes and Support at BAE Systems, said:

“I know through personal and professional experience just how important it is for older teenagers to have really good learning opportunities which prepare them for the world of work.

“Although I welcome the aims of study programmes for this age group, this report clearly shows most could be improved. An additional emphasis on work experience is particularly important – our research shows that experience is the single most important factor employers look for when recruiting, so boosting work experience for young people is likely to improve their chances of getting a good job.

“I also welcome Ofsted’s recommendation that new 16–19 performance measures - including retention, completion of the core aim and destinations on leaving the programme - are used to hold providers to account for the success of study programmes.

“This issue is too important to leave to chance, so we need to use every lever at our disposal to improve 16–19 programmes and make those improvements stick. In my 2013 report, I recommended simplifying and decluttering the skills system to make it easier for learners and training providers to engage with. Some elements of this are happening, but the timescale needs to be accelerated. Communications with and between employers, schools and colleges also needs to improve. We need to break down the divide between education and employment and set out clear expectations of the role businesses and educators should be playing, alongside examples of where it’s working well.

“Later in the year UKCES will be publishing its views on how, among other things, employers and the education system can be brought together to help boost the success of 16 – 19 study programmes.”