A three-year plan has been launched that aims to “provide digital services that elevate the further education and skills sector’s ability to serve people as lifelong learners”.
Developed following months of discussion with sector leaders, the new FE and skills strategy will help steer and support further education colleges across the four nations of the UK, sixth form colleges in England and Wales, specialist colleges and independent specialist colleges in England, adult and community learning providers and work-based learning providers in Wales.
Work on the strategy began towards the end of 2019 and has been refined to take account of the pandemic’s impact on the sector, as highlighted by the joint Jisc and AoC research project, shaping the digital future of FE and skills, which ran between May and July, 2020.
Jisc’s MD of FE and skills, Robin Ghurbhurun, who is responsible for the strategy, believes it will help the sector build upon the learnings from lockdown. He says:
“While the pandemic has been hugely disruptive and stressful for many, it has given further education and skills providers a long-overdue shot-in-the-arm - the catalyst required to push the sector into a new era of technology-enhanced education.
“Since the day providers were forced to close campuses, those which had been slow to the digifest began to realise not just the potential of technology, but the necessity. These organisations were challenged the most at the beginning of lockdown but have hopefully emerged all the stronger for it.
“My hope is that their staff are now equipped with new-found digital skills and confidence in online teaching and learning and their leaders are elevating investment in digital infrastructure and edtech further up their admittedly long wish lists. Simply put, those who fail to invest in the benefits of long-term digital transformation risk failure.
“Jisc will continue to do all it can to help. Our experts have supported the sector to manage the extraordinary short-term challenges presented by COVID-19 and, in the longer term, will help providers to excel while they respond to the policies of all UK governments, regional skills needs and the impact of Industry 4.0.”
The strategy sets out the needs and ambitions of the sector, using information from sources including the Commission on the College of the Future. It also introduces the ‘digital elevation model’, which will eventually be an online self-serve tool to help providers plan and invest in a digital journey relevant to their unique circumstances.
Finally, the strategy highlights the current Jisc portfolio for FE and skills and outlines the services it will develop for the sector over the next three years.
Our dedicated further education and skills web pages, have lots more information, news and advice to support the sector.