T+E Skills: Supporting training providers

Continuing our Transport + Energy Skills series, Dr Benjamin Silverstone – Skills and Workforce Transformation Specialist at WMG, University of Warwick – highlights the establishment of Further Education Lecturer Reserves which support training and development providers to ensure industry can access, train and develop the talent it needs.

Ensuring that employers can gain access to the training and development activities that they need requires a number of different factors to be taken into account. Investment in training will need to be considered, as well as the type, duration and location. Providers can find it a significant challenge to ensure that they are able to provide the type of training that employers really require due to pressures on staffing and facilities. Government investment in provider facilities, alongside ongoing investment from providers themselves, tends to address the second of those pressures but staffing remains the biggest challenge facing education providers at a time when the demand for training is greater than ever. To help support providers WMG and the Institute of the Motor Industry have published a positioning document proposing the establishment of a Further Education Lecturer Reserve to support providers. 

The Armed Forces have long relied on reserves to help augment their capability both in times of peace and war. Reservists provide much needed capacity as well as specialist capabilities that tend not to be retained on a full-time basis. The model of the Armed Forces Reserves is well recognised by employers, and the public at large, and offers protection to all parties involved as well as high quality training, opportunities for further development and experience that they would not gain without. It is generally recognised that employers, individuals and the Armed Forces themselves benefit hugely from the opportunities that Reservists have, the skills they develop and the diversity that they bring. 

There are many examples of employers who support providers by lending their staff to delivery specialist components of courses where there may be a gap in provider staffing. Whilst these are, in every single case, undertaken with the best of intent there are sometimes issues with the quality of delivery and the time that is required by those in industry to prepare and deliver. By using the Armed Forces Reserve model as a template the intention is to create a structure around the sharing of capability that ensure that provider can rely on the commitment being made, that individuals are trained effectively and that employers are not left out of pocket for sharing their capability. Wrapped around these protections is the creation of a culture that recognises the critical role that providers play in ensuring that industry is able to train and develop their existing staff as well as receive capable new staff who are joining the workforce for the first time. Encouraging young, talented employees to engage with providers is key in achieving this. 

Representatives from both the Houses of Commons and Lords will soon be discussing this proposal and there are moves to pilot the approach in both the West Midlands and South West regions. To support this there will be a need for employers to step forwards and commit to trying the approach to see whether it can be successful in supporting providers effectively.

If you, as an employer, are interested in support these pilots please contact me at Benjamin.silverstone@warwick.ac.uk and together we will work to ensure that the UK is able to access, train and develop the talent it needs. 

Transport + Energy recently announced a new initiative, Transport + Energy Skills, in partnership with the WMG at the University of Warwick. The project will highlight the sectors’ shortage and provide insight, information exchange and solutions to progress a major re-skill, up-skill and new-skill of workers, to fit the way industries are changing and ensure UK companies are competitive. Find out more here.

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