Further Education Funding Crisis

Further Education is suffering!

What does that really mean? Yes funding has been cut and FE Colleges are struggling because of the way they have managed their funds over the years.

Are the Independent Sector sector in the smae crisis? Yes however for a very different reason. The potential income they generate is subject to real competitive process and very stringent monitoring.

Rogues In the System

In 1991 the aim focused on occupying time and ensuring that everyone in the system was “doing something useful”.

The move to vocational qualifications had begun and the independent sector really came into its own. Providing specialist and technical training that cost the colleges too much to invest in. Or FE Colleges used to tell us at meetings and events that it wasn’t real education.

From that point something really daft happened, the sector grew without the control required. Funding focused on numbers, so there were courses where learners turned up once and left got £10 and never completed anything but the funding flowed.

This simple fraud was replaced by some staff being forced to sign documents on behalf of their learners or organisations claiming to fictional learners at bogus addresses.

The majority played by the rules, however, that minority created longterm sector problems. The sector began to attract bad publicity and it hasn’t disappeared.

Apprenticeships

Oh what a sad event the move to purposeless training for 16 to 24 year olds. Some great learning opportunities but sadly a system that would failed the qualified young person.

Some great project managed into nonexistence by the Skills Funding Agency when they took projects over from other departments.

The systemic issues begin with the Apprenticeship programme. FE Providers aren’t the right people to provide an apprenticeship, the guilds of professional bodies are. FE Colleges should provide some education within the package but they should never be responsible for the whole package.

The employer is challenged to provide some funding or support. In a system that states it is free why should an employer invest?

A Simple Adjustment

There are too many bodies, departments, colleges, agencies and monitoring bodies involved in the system. In this time of increased technology there isn’t the administrative need in most of these establishments.

Learning tracking can be done daily using well designed apps and software, money released to approved training organisations based on the tracking tools.

OfSted and OFQUAL plus the ESFA and the Department for Education, the repetition in this system is wasteful. Then add into the mix the all the awarding bodies. The system of qualifications accreditation can be simplified and one qualification custodian created for the integrity of learning. Cutting millions from the administrative capacity of the system.

All learners use the unique reference numbers they already have for tracking NI or Tax but don’t over complicate a simple process.

Or just scrap the whole funding process and encourage the FE sector to compete. Most Colleges will fold in months and something new, dynamic and lean will rise from the ashes. The sector needs to embrace the change and quit moaning.

The 21st Century learning is repeating the failures of of the previous 30 years.

Conclusion

Having worked in and outside the sector for over 30 years it is clear that the system is broken. Learners and tutors suffer, there is sufficient money in the system and excess capacity.

So let the competition streamline the sector. Force the FE Colleges to compete for every £, no ring fencing and remove the failed Charters.

Education has become a pool for stagnation, HE is all about the money and schools are being squeezed by the funding structure.

It is probably time to think again. We don’t need massive buildings to teach subjects that induviduals don’t want to learn. Close the FE buildings and open up high street learning shops. Put the financial value in the hands of the learner.

Subsidise qualifications if necessary but only as the learner walks through the door.

Technology has the capacity to achieve all of this.

FE Colleges are dinosaurs in a modern learning environment.

Debates and questions in the house present politicians with an opportunity to say the sector needs more money but really it needs to change.

Business Focus

Critically so much business focus is drifting to a nonsense that affects very few UK companies.

Whatever Happens – Politically, Economically or Socially there is a decision we must make.

A cruise ship that ran aground is seen off the west coast of Italy at Giglio island January 14, 2012. At least three people were killed and rescuers were looking for other victims on Saturday after Costa Concordia, a large Italian cruise ship, carrying more than 4,000 people ran aground overnight, took on water and tipped over. REUTERS/Remo Casilli (ITALY – Tags: DISASTER MARITIME TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) – RTR2W9G2

Passengers, Spectators or Entreprenuers?

Napolean describe Britain as a nation of shop-keepers. Today he would describe the residents as nervous shoppers.

Britain imports more than it exports to Europe. That allows for greater local growth in business.

The last 40 years has seen the redundancy of heavy manufacturing, the development of a service economy and a pool of talent in new sectors.

Therefore, the decision has to be do the businesses of Britain exploit the opportunity or become a victim of change.

Focus and Guts

A fool and his money are easily parted. Billions is paid out every year to develop competitive companies in other EU Member States. As a Business Consultant the first thing I would advise a company is stop subsidising your competitors.

Understand the marketplace. Learn to create locally and generate opportunities. An economy that relies on external stimulation is an economy that can collapse overnight.

Debt Economics

The economic principle of a debt fueled economy is dangerous because everyone owes everyone else and eventually someone has to be paid. Then the dominos begin to fall.

Debt inflates the economy. If individuals are prepared to borrow more to buy what they want the price can contiue to rise. When more save and fewer people buy immediately prices fall. Hence all the high street sales.

A simple principle. If all your personal debts were called in tomorrow apart from a mortgage on a property would you be solvent? How long would it take to pay off the debt at your current income?

Debt fuels pay rises, the media and advertisers say people deserve better but the reality is it can’t be afforded.

Policy Failure is no excuse

All government policy – economic and social is bound to fail someone. There are so many reasons for reaching that conclusion, however, the issue for individuals remains who do I want to be able to blame?

Governments are there to carry the blame for things that fail.

Health and Social Care is failing because UK residents don’t want to pay for it. Countries that don’t have the NHS don’t pay as much in tax but that is because they don’t have the welfare state.

People need to realise that the choices made on tax affect the collective welfare, but the priority today is self interest.

Conclusion

Watch the government, wait for an outcome you can’t control and play on as the ship sicks without trace.

Or do something, anything to bring energy into the business, focus on quality, design, innovation and creativity. Win business because it isn’t looking for you, therefore sell, trade, grow and develop.

Looking for innovative solutions – pick up the phone and call us or contact us. The longer businesses wait the more difficult the pathway.

For example have you decided where you can import alternative product from? or Better where can you export your products and services to?

Don’t be niave the marketplace isn’t waiting for you if you are doing nothing now. Let the CBI, FSB, IoDs and other bodies argue the politics its about time to get up and do something positive.

Exo-economics – the bigger picture

Exo-economics is the study of external pressures on the trading economics.

Development of the study of exo-economics is interesting. It focuses on the social, financial and political pressures that can be applied to a macro economy. However, the Internal and external pressures either stimulate enterprise or undermine it. 

Exo-economics – Manufacturing

The 20th century drift of manufacturing to South East Asia could be repeated by the faster developing nations in Africa and South America if only they weren’t fighting amongst themselves.

The key is a low economy, access to raw materials and 21st century infrastructure.

Fortunately for China, the USA and other manufacturing major players this current situation is going to extend for at least 50 years.

The impact on UK Manufacturing and EU companies is beginning to really bite. India is the service industry fast growth, China remains as the leader in manufacturing and we now need to look at where the science base is developing.

The global economy render many EU countries as the has beens.

Critical balance approach 

The Critical Balance point in any economy has to be linked with the spending power of the individual however it can include micro investment.

Arrest the trend of the globalisation of manufacturing in three ways:

  • Exclusivity
  • Quality
  • Innovation

At a micro economic level. “It may cost more but by spending my money on this I can see the added value” is a fantastic sound. Especially when a consumer is committed to buying.

Loyalty

Add loyalty to this group of three. Consequently this creates a mutual benefit.

Loyalty earns trust! Trust causes the consumer to spend! Spending keeps the business wheels turning.

Localism

National interests are fine but local interests are more important. Invest in local skills. Developing infrastructure and technology causes the economic growth. However buying imported materials stiffles growth leaving nothing.

Debt Free economics

The economy operating across Europe and USA is debt fuelled.

Governments work on the principle of manageable debt. Therefore,  consumers are encouraged to do the same.

If 80% of what I earn is paying off debt and the 20% remaining I live on then as earning falls or income ends the short term outcome is catastrophic.

Therefore, logical conclusion flip it around 80% living income and 20% variable levels of debt.

Better still, the debt free economy, spend what we have now.

Exo-economics – apply pressure from within

Therefore, look positively at the global market and take back the the local consumer.

Consequently, Change attitudes!

Adjust individual buying patterns!

Create positive economic foundations

Use clear strong language, dynamic marketing and be positive.

Conclude now that Economic Innovation requires person centred products.