Skills and training procurement is yet another public service market which has experienced significant change in the last few years. Despite a reduction in the budget for further education since 2010, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has overseen rising levels of provision, significant growth in adult Apprenticeships, and an increase in English and maths participation. Key publications such as the State of the Nation Report, the Richard Review of Apprenticeships and the National Careers Council Report have debated how skills and education provision can meet changing economic needs. Higher quality provision, stronger links between further education providers, local Jobcentres and Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), and skills provision which is responsive to employer demand are clearly needed.
Recent reforms have attempted to tackle both demand and supply-side issues. One key focus has been equipping young people with the skills they need to succeed and thrive in today’s economic conditions. This has included raising the participation age (RPA) in which young people are required to continue in education or training, a change in policy direction from outputs to outcomes, allowing providers more freedom to determine how outcomes are achieved, and a significantly increased focus on Apprenticeships with almost a third of the SFA’s total funding allocated to them.
LEPs have been given a new strategic role over skills policy, including the ability to determine how EU Common Strategic Framework funds, including the European Social Fund, are used locally by deciding whether or not to ‘opt-in’ to provision co-financed by the SFA. Skills Incentives Pilots, City Deals and Growth Deals funded through the Local Growth Fund have further increased the influence of LEPs in ensuring local FE providers and other skills training provider offers are more responsive to local economies. Other developments such as Community Learning mental health funding are driving integration between previously siloed providers and commissioners to support local communities more effectively.
We have designed tenders and won a range of contracts including work-based learning, skills support for the unemployed, apprenticeships, and support for families with multiple problems. We have also worked as an interim contract manager for a skills support programme we won for a client in the North East.
Not only do we design training programmes to meet the needs of commissioners like the Skills Funding Agency, we also design training programmes to meet the specific needs of organisations. We have delivered a series of training events to the voluntary sector as part of Clinks‘ MoJ infrastructure grant and regularly meet with organisations of different shapes and sizes, to provide capacity building support by working with them to design their growth strategy, their business development strategy, and to train their staff to write stronger bids.
We can support your organisation in many ways, such as: