As we return to work after the holidays, I’m delighted to report we are once again in the privileged position of beginning a new year as a thriving and highly effective business that reinvests in the industries we serve. We have award-winning qualifications amongst our extensive portfolio and an established reputation for quality and service amongst our customers. We can boast a united team with unrivalled industry expertise and experience of building long-standing partnerships. Initiatives like Trailblazers have given us opportunities to work more closely with employers and build an even better understanding of our customers. Against this backdrop 2016 looks set to be an exciting year for us.
Week in and week out I see practical examples of how the way we work has a positive impact on learners, on our Centres and on industry. Sometimes it’s a big thing, at others times it’s a smaller but significant piece of the jigsaw.
At EAL we know the importance of forging links with industry. This is what makes our qualifications relevant, fit for purpose and in demand from employers. I’m pleased to say that the opportunity for Centres to expand their own industry connections has now opened up further via The STEM Exchange.
I can’t remember an autumn statement and comprehensive spending review that has been so nervously anticipated. Everyone involved in skills – from employers to the FE sector – have braced themselves in the knowledge that significant changes are just around the corner.
Within George Osborne’s speech, there appear to be some cautious positives for the skills agenda: 16-19 fully funded skills provision is protected and FE budgets for adult skills remain unchanged in cash terms. The government holds fast to its target for 3 million apprenticeships by 2020. Support for individuals to pursue skills development has also been increased with the extension of tuition fee loans and maintenance loans being opened up to support part time students.
There are just a few days left to submit your nominations for the Semta Skills Awards 2016 and I’d like to take this last opportunity to encourage our EAL learners, Centres and employers, to get your entries in by 30 November and promote what you do.
Since the government announced its intention to introduce an apprenticeship levy, EAL and Semta have undertaken detailed consultation with employers about the implications for industry apprenticeships. Earlier this month we submitted a combined consultation response for the Semta Group, highlighting specific concerns and recommendations from industry employers.
Over the next few months the EAL team will be busy supporting a range of industry events devoted to showcasing skills, innovation and achievement. We're proud to be sponsoring the Electrical Industry Awards, The Manufacturer MX Awards and the Manufacturing Champions Awards before Christmas. We'll also be sponsoring the National Apprenticeship Awards in the New Year and supporting the third Semta Skills Awards in February.
It really does never cease to amaze me how many awards there are, each championing different skills or parts of the skills journey. But I have come to appreciate, in my day to day role, the real value of doing just this; of celebrating all the contributors and components of building our industry skills pipeline.