The FE sector needs the revolutionary post-16 white paper that has been promised now more than ever

A paper published today by NCFE and our friends at Campaign for Learning is urging the Government to ensure that the plans outlined in the forthcoming post-16 white paper are sufficiently flexible to meet the immense changes facing the UK economy.

‘Revolutionary Forces’, is a joint commission of expert articles penned by leading authorities from the FE sector, as well as labour market economics, employment and mental health. The authors explore some of the key challenges facing the nation throughout the 2020s which the DfE needs to take into consideration when writing their recommendations.

A ‘vision’ for the further education sector

Promising to provide a ‘vision’ for the further education sector and hailed by Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson as ‘revolutionary’; the white paper has been hotly anticipated by the FE sector since it was announced in April 2020. Three months on however, the scope of the paper is still unknown.

Anticipating a comprehensive document which will cover all aspects of post-16 education, including further and higher education, apprenticeships and adult and community learning, our discussion paper explores the key actions that the government needs to take to enable the sector to respond to economic recession and mass unemployment, as well as the policies which should be implemented to drive longer-term improvements to the post-16 education and skills system to promote economic and social renewal.

Revolutionary Forces

In the immediate aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is easy to forget that there were wider revolutionary forces at work before the virus outbreak.

With the UK still due to leave the European Union on 31 December, the impact of Brexit will reshape the structure of the UK economy and the way in which we trade throughout the world. Add to this:

  • The country’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions
  • Wider and faster automation
  • The introduction of a skills-based immigration system restricting low-skilled workers
  • A flexible labour market where low-pay and gig-jobs go hand-in-hand
  • Mass adult unemployment and longer working lives
  • Mass youth unemployment and a rising population of 18-24 year olds
  • A national debt over 100% of GDP
  • The ongoing mental health crisis

The FE sector needs the revolutionary post-16 white paper that has been promised now more than ever.

Read the paper now