What do we want and need from our colleges from 2030 onwards, and how do we get there? These were the simple, yet fundamental questions the Commission on the College of the Future set out to answer when it began work in spring 2019.
The Commission’s vision is that colleges will empower people throughout their lives with the skills they need to get on in life, support better productivity and innovation of businesses, and strengthen every community’s sense of place.
Following its UK-wide final report last year, it has now published its final report - for Northern Ireland. This report argues that the colleges are the vehicles to regionally balance the economy, support businesses to adapt to a green and digital economy and provide better skills opportunities for those out of work. It adds that to deliver on a higher ambition for skills, recognition of colleges’ unique role and sustainable investment are needed.
Robin Ghurbhurun, Jisc’s managing director of FE and skills and one of the Commission’s expert panelists, says:
”The College of the Future’s final nation-centric report sets out a bold and ambitious vision for the further education landscape in Northern Ireland.
“Recognising the changing nature of technology and how it impacts job roles, we welcome the report’s recommendation to implement a digital action plan with a network of ‘community hubs’ to address digital exclusion. This will support the current and future workforce to meet the UK’s requirement for technical skills.
“We also welcome the focus on supporting businesses to adapt to a green and digital economy and provide better skills opportunities for those out of work.
“Staff capabilities are fundamental to this ambition and Jisc’s own research highlights the pressing need to support teachers with digital skills, to improve delivering engaging online teaching, as we move into future that blends digital and in-person learning.
“With the right investment, Northern Ireland’s colleges can help make technology-enhanced education the norm, rather than the exception.”