As well as the report, some of the issues being discussed today include the trials facing young people wanting to go into further education and the inherent challenges in further education in promoting social mobility and securing economic growth.
The ‘Skills for employment’ report found that when matching unemployed adults to specific courses, progression to employment was not a high enough priority. Too many programmes focused on achievement of qualifications and courses did not extend to training that lead to job specific skills. When looking at the overall proportion of a total of 10,270 jobseekers spanning 31 different further education providers Ofsted found only 19 per cent were successful in getting a job. Many providers were not offering jobseekers challenging enough courses that were likely to increase their chances of sustained employment.
Matthew Coffey, the National Director of Learning and Skills said:
Currently over 8% of the population are unemployed and latest figures show over 1.41 million of those have been unemployed for more than six months. Ofsted’s Skills for employment report aims to assess the efficiency of the further education and skills sector in matching unemployed adults to courses to develop their skills and enable them to find suitable employment. We found too many courses simply lead on to more courses and do not address the urgency of getting unemployed adults into work.
These issues along with others are being discussed at the first annual Learning and Skills Lecture. Further Education is becoming more and more important in promoting economic prosperity and enabling social mobility by supporting young people and unemployed adults to make the transition into work, improving literacy and numeracy and by providing top quality Apprenticeships.
In August 2011, the government launched a set of new initiatives inviting further education providers to prioritise labour market focused training. The initiatives aimed to support more unemployed people to develop the skills they needed to progress into employment. The report found that some providers were initially slow to respond to the government’s initiatives and were unsure about how they would be held to account over the ways they used their allocated funding. The report also found that although labour market focused training increased employability in the long term, it did not address the urgency for jobseekers to move off benefits into work.
Positively, the most successful providers visited by Ofsted had good links with Jobcentre Plus (JCP) and local employers to increase referrals when matching unemployed adults to specific courses. Successful providers also had expert staff trained in working with unemployed people. These staff demonstrated good skills in referring people to specific courses and made excellent initial assessments and development plans geared towards the barriers unemployed people had preventing them from finding employment.