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News: ‘Positive’ outcome for majority of adult learners, government claims


Nearly three quarters of adult learners who completed further education courses in 2010/11 moved into either sustained employment or learning, according to government figures.

The experimental data, published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), examined the destination and progression of adults in further education in 2010/11.

It revealed that, of the 1.5 million adult learners on skills or apprenticeship courses, 72% had a ‘sustained positive destination’, either into employment or further learning, the following year.

For those who completed a full level three as their highest qualification, the rate increased to 80%.

In addition, those who undertook apprenticeships had a higher ‘sustained positive destination’ rate of 84%, compared to 70% on skills courses.

Historically, further education success has been measured mainly by the number of learners completing and achieving qualifications.

The government hopes this new data will lead to a “more holistic approach” to measuring success in adult education, as well as help people understand the “real-life benefits” of qualifications and training.

Skills minister Nick Boles said this is an important step in “recalibrating” the way success is considered in further education.

“Simply gaining a qualification is not the reason learners enter education and therefore should not be the sole measure by which we determine success.

“Instead we need to look at where education leads - whether that’s employment or further study.

“We need to be scrutinising not only how well further education providers deliver learning, but also what that learning achieves. By using a more holistic measure of success, we are working to incentivise providers to stretch and challenge students.”

BIS has also launched a consultation to coincide with the data, to establish how it can be used to support students, employers and educators, as well as form part of the government’s performance management of the post-19 education and skills sector.

The government also plans to use this to empower learners and employers to decide where to invest any funding to support training.

John Allan, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said that education and training provision must meet the needs of business.

“These proposals will give prospective students a better understanding of what training they need to pursue their careers.

“With the labour market changing dramatically in the past few years, those leaving education and training should feel confident that the qualifications and training they have will be of value to the businesses that may employ them.”

Yet Joy Mercer, director of education policy at the Association of Colleges, warned that the government must not hold colleges solely responsible for employment success.

“The government must be careful not to confuse helpful data on which courses can lead to better employment prospects, with expecting colleges to have direct responsibility for job success. 

“Some colleges are operating in the most deprived areas where jobs are scarce, and the government must accept that there are a whole range of local stakeholders, in particular Local Enterprise Partnerships, who also play a key role in creating new employment opportunities.”

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Lucie Mitchell


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