It is vitally important that education providers work side-by-side with employers to ensure that qualifications and training are meeting skills needs, EAL has stated.

The comments follow an Ofsted report published today (Thursday, July 12) in which it was found that only 19 per cent of learners who left further education programmes gained employment between August 2011 and April 2012. This increased to 27 per cent for those on bespoke programmes linked with individual employers looking to recruit staff.

Ann Watson, Managing Director of EAL, said: “Further education providers and colleges need to work side-by-side with employers to ensure that their provision meets the needs of the market. Qualifications should be designed with input from local companies so that learners are gaining the skills and experience required for the workplace. This is vital for meeting skills shortages in industries such as manufacturing and engineering as well as reducing unemployment.

“A great example of an effective partnership can be seen between Hartlepool College of Further Education and lawn mower manufacturer Husqvarna. Working alongside EAL, the partnership adapted a qualification to directly address Husqvarna’s skills needs – after it had already proven so successful within the automotive industry. The company had input in the design and development of the level 2 EAL qualification – called ’Preparation for Working in the Engineering Manufacturing Industry’ – and this has since led to nearly 300 learners landing jobs as assembly workers and operators.

“It is this kind of collaborative approach that will help reduce the unemployment rate. It is not good enough to concentrate solely on getting learners through qualifications. We must give them the best possible chance of gaining a job once they have finished.”

She added: “As well as providing learners with the skills and experience required within the workplace, we must also focus on the soft skills necessary to gain employment, such as CV writing, interview preparation and careers advice. Learners must have a clear pathway from the beginning of their qualification through to entering employment or progressing up the education ladder.”

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