‘We can lead the world on tech­ni­cal ed­u­ca­tion’

New FE sec­tor al­liance aims for UK to be the global leader in the next decade

TES (Times Education Supplement) - - FURTHER - Stephen ex­ley and will martin

WITH SOME honourable ex­cep­tions, ef­forts to ex­port the UK’S brand of tech­ni­cal and vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion over­seas in re­cent times have met with limited suc­cess.

The Col­leges of Ex­cel­lence pro­gramme to es­tab­lish a wave of new tech­ni­cal ed­u­ca­tion col­leges in Saudi Ara­bia was hailed by the gov­ern­ment back in 2014 as a “£1 bil­lion ex­ports win for UK ed­u­ca­tion”. But puni­tive con­tracts, re­cruit­ment chal­lenges and prob­lems on the ground led to sev­eral col­leges drop­ping out of the pro­gramme.

In 2013, the As­so­ci­a­tion of Col­leges launched AOC In­dia to help its mem­bers tap into the po­ten­tially lu­cra­tive mar­ket in the sub­con­ti­nent. Last year, the AOC con­firmed that the ven­ture was to cease its op­er­a­tions, with pol­icy tur­bu­lence mean­ing that col­leges were “likely to fo­cus closer to home”.

In­deed, as far back as 2012, former Of­sted chief in­spec­tor Sir Michael Wil­shaw was quick to re­buke col­leges for tak­ing their eye off the ball closer to home, and stressed the need to fo­cus on “Dept­ford not Delhi”. All the while, the UK’S com­peti­tors, such as Ger­many, Aus­tralia, Canada and the US, have been mak­ing their pres­ence felt in emerg­ing ed­u­ca­tional mar­kets across the globe.

But now an al­liance of or­gan­i­sa­tions has been cre­ated to build a co­her­ent pack­age of tech­ni­cal and vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing (TVET) for the ex­port mar­ket with a view to putting the UK at the fore­front of in­ter­na­tional skills pro­vi­sion.

‘World-class’ stan­dards

The Depart­ment for In­ter­na­tional Trade has joined forces with the AOC, the As­so­ci­a­tion of Em­ploy­ment and Learn­ing Providers, the Bri­tish Coun­cil and the Fed­er­a­tion of Award­ing Bod­ies (FAB) to cre­ate the UK Skills Part­ner­ship, which will be for­mally launched in Oc­to­ber.

FAB chief ex­ec­u­tive Stephen Wright says the part­ner­ship is “well-placed to es­tab­lish the UK as the global leader in TVET in the 2020s”. “The UK has a strong rep­u­ta­tion and is well-placed to take a lead­ing role in the emerg­ing in­ter­na­tional TVET mar­ket due to well-writ­ten, ‘world-class’ stan­dards, qual­i­fi­ca­tions that have in­ter­na­tional cur­rency and ex­cel­lent train­ing skills,” he adds.

“The UK Skills Part­ner­ship has been formed to sup­port the col­lab­o­ra­tive ap­proach re­quired to take ad­van­tage of this op­por­tu­nity. Although still a rel­a­tively new group, the am­bi­tion is sig­nif­i­cant. In the 1950s, through thought lead­er­ship, re­search, ap­pli­ca­tion and ef­fec­tive­ness, the US es­tab­lished it­self as the undis­puted global leader in mar­ket­ing. In the 1980s, Ja­pan was ac­knowl­edged as the global leader in man­u­fac­tur­ing. By work­ing to­gether with a clear propo­si­tion, we are wellplaced to es­tab­lish the UK as the global leader in TVET in the 2020s.”

Speak­ing ear­lier this month, Jonathan Ledger, global TVET spe­cial­ist at the Depart­ment for In­ter­na­tional Trade, said that while Ger­many had been suc­cess­ful in pro­mot­ing its tech­ni­cal ed­u­ca­tion over­seas, the UK po­ten­tially has more to of­fer if it can ex­plain its pro­vi­sion in sim­pler terms.

He told a West­min­ster Ed­u­ca­tion Fo­rum event on the fu­ture of UK ed­u­ca­tion abroad: “We’re too quick to run around the world and tell them how com­plex TVET is… Ac­tu­ally, it kind of un­der­mines what we’re do­ing over­seas.

“The Depart­ment for In­ter­na­tional Trade is work­ing re­ally hard now with its part­ners to be able to clean up what TVET looks like and how it’s pre­sented to the rest of the world, so that we stand a bet­ter chance. If the Ger­mans

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