This is such a fantastic time to be taking the reins at EAL, with so much policy change happening and so many exciting new opportunities opening up.
We may have launched our 25th anniversary celebrations at a special event in Parliament recently, and the framework in which we work may be set there, but the continued success of EAL will be made out in the field, by EAL learners and in EAL centres.
And that, after all, is why we do what we do at EAL. We know, because we work every single day with employers and our centres across the sectors we serve, that qualifications are vital in enabling them to have the confidence in the skills and competence of their workforces. We know too that learners value their qualifications as a way of giving them currency in a competitive and fast-changing jobs market. And we know from working with our centres just how passionate and dedicated those who deliver EAL qualifications are to maintaining rigour and quality in the skills system – EAL wouldn’t have the reputation we do without their hard work.
With technological change gathering pace and the requirements of industry set to change, qualifications are going to become even more important. The only way individuals will be able to prove their ability to do the jobs of the future will be through qualifications which include a core of transferable skills. As our Chairman, John Hillier, has recently said, with apprenticeship standards all tied to individual job roles, and in our sectors liable to be outdated within as little as three years, if we don’t include qualifications we risk leaving people behind. Without a recognised qualification, how can people really demonstrate a wider skillset and competence?
It’s so important that the learner and apprentice voice is heard loudly and clearly, as ultimately they are the people with the greatest stake in the success or otherwise of our skills system. I’m delighted with the progress our Industry Apprentice Council is making as the voice of apprentices – IAC members have spoken in Parliament (including at our 25th anniversary reception!) and the latest annual report has been quoted on the floor of the House of Commons.
I hope all EAL centres will encourage the apprentices they work with to complete the latest IAC annual survey, as this year it’s more important than ever that apprentices have the opportunity to influence and advise on policy. The Institute for Apprenticeships will go live in April - at the same time as the apprenticeship levy is set to be introduced – and an apprentice panel will be set up, which will report directly to the Board. There’s a real opportunity here for industry apprentices – and wouldn’t it be brilliant if there was an EAL learner on that panel, making the case for qualifications to continue to be included in new standards?
At EAL, we are confident that we (by which I mean providers and employers across the sectors we serve, as well as our team) are making all of the right arguments when it comes to qualifications. It’s not every day we’ll get the chance to make them in the House of Commons – but it’s so important that we keep making them.
Most importantly of all, it’s crucial that we are there to help and advise employers and EAL centres with managing and benefiting from the upcoming changes. That’s why, as part of the wider Enginuity Group, we are proud to offer a truly end-to-end apprenticeship levy service. Please do get in touch with us, use our expertise – and help to kick-start another successful 25 years of EAL.