I'm copying below the key messages from an LSIS commissioned report undertaken by the RSA on the future of FE and Skills. The executive summary of the report is here: Download LSIS FE & Skills 2020 Exec Summary
Caroline Mager from LSIS says:
"The report proposes that the sector faces a choice between ‘sleepwalking into a dangerous future’ or grasping the potential of a ‘social productivity alternative’. The report describes these two futures as:
- One in which financial pressures encourage a culture of retrenchment, where market mechanisms and current relationships with citizens prevail and where the sector becomes a marginalised service pushed and pulled by more powerful local players;
- Another more collaborative, networked, and socially productive future based on the concept of social productivity where colleges and providers are incubators of social value and hubs for service integration; where further education serves the needs of learners through being a creative partner in local growth and service reform agendas.
The concept of ‘social productivity’ was introduced by the 2020 Public Services Commission which argued that whilst the Beveridge model has served Britain well, 60 years on it is time for a fundamental reassessment of public services. It called for a shift from ‘public services as a deliverer of social security, to a new culture of social productivity’ that ‘puts engagement, co-production and civic responsibility at the heart of public services. … This means focusing … on how the confluence of citizen agency, civil society and the state can collaboratively create the right conditions to improve social and economic outcomes.’
The report elaborates 5 directions of development implied by this approach which it illustrates as follows:
- Incubate social value – ie
- Return adult education to the centre of FE’s mission – promoting lifelong skills and learning
- Become the ‘skills for society’ incubators – providing the skills to create the Big Society
- Be the local social enterprise hubs – offering skills & training for social entrepreneurship
- Network local growth – ie
- Become the R&D centres for Local Enterprise Partnerships – providing the raw material for local growth
- Catalyse local small & medium enterprise (SME) networks – becoming a local business hub
- Establish area-based curricula – more in tune with the needs of local enterprise
- Drive public service integration - ie
- Become case managers for young adults – managing transition for those at risk
- Build capacity for community commissioning – driving local integrated public service models
- Become integrated service hubs - sharing functions and expertise & generating efficiencies
- Re-set citizen engagement – ie
- Personalise across the range of FE services – through better market segmentation
- Make space for civic association – helping to catalyse local democratic activity
- Become an education bank for the community – offering resources for citizen engagement
- Create platforms for open learning – ie
- Invest in digital learning – to develop remote, personalised learning pathways
- Develop ‘mix and match’ learning modules – tailored to diverse needs
- Offer peer-to-peer learning and entrepreneurial training provision – opening up formal structures
As well as setting out these long-term directions, the report identifies short-term actions that should be explored:
- Sizing up the barriers to social productivity:
to step up to this new role and to incubate social value and network local growth, tangible changes in provision, regulation and accountability are implied. We need to develop strategies for bringing about these changes in order to create a realistic operating framework.
- Accounting for social value:
Creating an applied methodology to determine and measure social value would unlock the potential of new accountability structures and governance frameworks. This could build on nascent work to measure social value, community wellness and well-being to create tangible, workable methodologies.
- Modelling social productivity in practice:
To understand the reality of social productivity in this sector, we need to explore practicalities – for example how social network analysis, co-creation and more collaborative relationship between colleges, citizens, businesses and other public services would influence service design and transform services.
We hope the report will stimulate discussion and empower the sector to determine the future it desires. If there is appetite for the future outlined in this report, or elements of it, LSIS will support the sector to develop a route map and strategy to achieve it.
In LSIS we therefore look forward to engaging in discussions, receiving comments and feedback on this report and understanding what it means for both those leading organisations in the sector and for LSIS itself in supporting your continuing development."