Failing Future Generations

13 June 2022


The UK has a number of filters to ensure the quality of qualifications, the standards of learning, and how it will be delivered, and assessed.

There are collective groups who manage the quality of adult education in our society, for example, Ofqual, which regulates qualifications, examinations and assessments in England. Ofsted inspects and manages services providing education and skills for learners, raising standards in education. Awarding bodies’ approved centres ensure high quality delivery of qualifications, carrying out activity designed to assure the quality of the qualifications awarded.

However, who regulates what a local community college can offer? Who ensures that a full range of skills and knowledge is offered, that will benefit the whole of the community, rather than a selected section?

Do training providers just pick what will be the most cost-effective to their business model? Will they fill their curriculums with knowledge-based courses, rather than run a mechanical workshop, which would be high on resources? Would it be more profitable to run a funded classroom programme, with 20 students, compared to a workshop with six learners? The answers to these questions are a driver of the skills shortage we have in mechanical occupations.

There has been a collective failure to address the needs of our sector, by several stakeholders, including the Sector Skills Councils, associations and colleges.

There are no apprenticeship programmes currently available in any of the ventilation occupations, including the installation of supply and extract systems, local exhaust ventilation, kitchen extract, fire protection, cleaning and maintenance.

We can have all the knowledge, skills, qualifications, and appetite for apprenticeships for any occupation, but if we have no implementation plan and no means of facilitation, then we fail that occupation and sector, leaving us with a skills shortage for our communities.

There is a requirement to have a broad range of skills across our society, and maybe more power should be given to a governing body to make sure that the learning establishments are not permitted to cherry-pick funded programmes that make their organisations profitable, but then fail to meet the needs of our communities and society.

Of the two main associations within the ventilation sector, both established for over 20 years, one is part of the current Sector Skills Council, so why do we not have an apprenticeship programme for ventilation? One can only hope that the Skills and Post-16 Education Act can have a positive impact on these issues, and offer the opportunity for more transparency and accountability, to post-16 education.

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