More of a provider/customer relationship than a true partnership, where the institution agrees to deliver continuing professional development courses to the employees of the other party. The development of such courses may require a high level of mutual development and understanding between the two partners before delivery can begin, or may involve an ‘off-the-shelf’ approach.
In many cases funding for such course delivery can come from the institution’s main funding body, as is the case with much work-based learning provided by the further education sector. Many competence-based courses are taught and assessed to NVQ qualification standards with little need for further course development. The Train-To-Gain initiative has been a huge success story for many FE colleges and has given thousands of employees a recognised qualification, often for the first time.
Whilst this meets one UK government strategic driver – raising the number of qualified people in the domestic workforce, which is a directly comparable measure within Europe, it has been less successful in addressing another UK government strategic driver, namely the contribution of UK industry towards the costs of training its workforce.
The success of colleges in exploiting NVQ provision to the needs of their employer partners has therefore led to problems in the sustainability of the funding. However, where employers are looking for specific skills not covered by NVQs or are looking for training at higher levels, both the FE and HE sectors have responded by developing training on short-courses at a range of price levels from subsidised cost where core funding can justifiably be used to full economic costing.
Both FE and HE institutions argue that full economic costing makes them uncompetitive in markets well covered by private training providers due to large overheads in premises and staffing costs.
Institutional training partnerships
‘Supply chains’ can be an emotive phrase to use in an educational institution as the embedding BCE project found. However in terms of providing training to employers it is likely that there will be more than one supplier to any employer or organisation.
Any organisation, whether in the public or private sector, which has a range of staff undertaking varied jobs or tasks, requiring a range of skills at various levels, is likely to source training from colleges, universities and also some private training providers.
Whilst the term ‘supply chain’ challenged at least one individual within the project almost to the level of health risk, it is included here to promote the forming of partnerships with other local or regional colleges or universities so that if the partner is already supplying training to an organisation who asks for training at a level best supplied by an organisation from the other sector, a reference can be given.