Building Links Between Colleges and Employers


Employer and college engagement is a missing link in resolving growing skills gaps in the UK workforce.  A report by UKCES, 157 Group and the Gazelle College Group examines how we can build these links, establish business relationships and prevent future skills shortages.

The Missing Link?

Instances where employers failed to find applicants with the right skills have doubled between 2011 and 2013. This sharp rise in skills shortage vacancies has the potential to undermined economic recovery and stunt technological growth.

Education and training is key to filling these shortages but colleges cannot do this on their own. For colleges to design training that delivers on these skills they need to understand both immediate and future area workforce demands.

Benefits for Colleges

Successful long-term engagement with employers will enable colleges to:

  • Be better placed to equip students with skills for local jobs
  • Provide learners with a clear line of sight to real job opportunities
  • Respond to the needs of the local economy and build a local presence
  • Establish a long term future within the community & weather eternal changes
  • Build credibility, respect and create ‘advocates’ for the college in the business community
  • Learn to operate as a business, driving business narrative through the organisation
  • Understand and be able to demonstrate the colleges role and purpose
  • Foresee and adapt provision for future challenges and demands
  • Increase ‘job outcomes

 Benefits for Businesses

This ‘two-way street’ could help businesses as to:

  • Identify new young talent
  • Recruit ‘work ready’ employees directly from colleges
  • Develop a local workforce with skills that fit their needs
  • Train the local workforce with the skills they need
  • Gain Labour market intelligence
  • Up skill existing staff and gain
  • Develop tailor-made curriculum / provision for their needs
  • Take advantage of work experience opportunities 


Building stronger bonds between colleges and employers is no easy task.” commented John Cridland CBE, CBI Director-General and UKCES Commissioner.

By forging more links between local colleges and firms in their area, we can help ensure that colleges produce students with the skills and characteristics employers need to thrive.

The report poses 4 topics as thinking points to consider when building future collaborations between colleges and employers.

  1. "The primary purpose of a college is to contribute to its economic community.
  2. "College leaders need to develop new types of skills and higher levels of entrepreneurship if the are to succeed in strategic partnerships with employers.
  3. "The credibility of colleges with employers is tied up with what they offer.
  4. "Employers need to get to know their local college and what it has to offer, and be better at articulation their future workforce plans."

We recommend reading the full report: A New Conversation; Employer and College Engagement.pdf

Tor Macleod 12:17

Skills & Employability Review Issue 14


Check your inboxes! Issue 14 of the Skills & Employability Review is out now.

What’s been happening this month in the busy world of Further Education & Skills? Here’s our recap of Aprils must read stories.

In this issue:

  1. FE Learner Choices Survey
  2. Apprenticeship Loans
  3. Our latest employment infographic & more.

Read Issue 14 online >

Join our mailing list to receive the monthly Skills & Employability Review by email.

Previous Issues

    • Issue 13 - Why Data Is Your Most Important, Funding Follows The Learner Journey & Online Delivery Data...
    • Issue 12 - Using Tech To Transform Education, The Skills Funding Statement & our new Labour Market Infographic…
    • Issue 11 - FELTAG & EdTech In The 1920's, FE Leaders React To Funding Cuts and our New Labour Market Infographic..

Issue 10 | Issue 9 | Issue 8 | Issue 7 | Issue 6 | Issue 5 | Issue 4 | Issue 3 | Issue 2 | Issue 1

Tor Macleod 07:09

Time To Change? Tips For College Structure and Prospects Appraisal


How are you adapting your provision and delivery for the future of Further Education and Skills?

New guidance for Further Education college leaders advises on undertaking a Structure and Prospects Appraisal. Published by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) this publication follows on from advice to providers in the government New Challenges New Chances document. 

Why Do Colleges Need A Structure And Prospects Appraisal?
The priority for the Further Education and Skills sector is to equip learners with the skills they need to find sustainable work. The purpose of conducting an appraisal is to discover whether your provision is doing this effectively and how to progress in the future.

To quote the document:

Further Education corporations now have a greater freedom from government regulation and central control than ever before.
"With this increased freedom from regulation, colleges also taken on increased responsibility to ensure that their provision meets the needs of their various communities and that major organisational changes are designed to be responsive to learner and employer need.

In the past few years many colleges have altered their delivery models - establishing partnerships with other colleges, universities and LEPs. The continuously evolving state of the sector ensures that it drives towards being “dynamic and responsive” to the needs of its customers.

The appraisals process is broken into 3 steps; triggers, appraisal and action.

Triggers For Change
In considering structural or delivery changes it is important for FE Colleges to prioritise meeting the needs of their learners, employers and the wider community. This is key to succeeding both as educators and as businesses.

A ‘trigger’ to reevaluate your structure could simply be a part of the college’s natural evolution or something more drastic such as poor performance and financial health.

Appraising The Situation
Start with the question: “How can the needs of current and future learners and employers be best met?

Set out your desired outcomes and a vision for the future.

  • What is your mission?
  • What is the focus of provision? (16-18s, Adult Learners etc.)
  • Are there niche areas you could be targeting? (Offender learning, high needs students etc.)
  • What are your success criteria?
  • What are your demographics, local employment patterns and LEP priorities?
  • Who are your competitors and what are their future plans?

Taking Action
It is important to assess changes with regard to the impact on learners, employers and the community as well as on value for money, staff and financial position.

After widely consulting on the proposal and new partners the college should be in a position to make a decision of in and how and changes should be made.

Find out more read the full guidance: Structure and prospects appraisals: further guidance for further education colleges

Have any tips for conducting a College Structure and Prospects Appraisal? Share your advice and experiences in the comments section below.

Tor Macleod 10:48

FE Learner Satisfaction Infographic

More than 360,00 learners and 58,000 employers who had received publicly-funded training were asked how satisfied they were with the training received.

This infographic by the Skills Funding Agecy summarises the findings from the FE choices satisfaction surveys undertaken in 2012 to 2013.

Find out more: FE choices satisfaction surveys

FE Choices Survey

Tor Macleod 10:40

Infographic: UK Employment At 30.39 Million

Labour market estimates from the Office for National Statistics contains the latest employment, unemployment and average earnings estimates for December 2013 to February 2014.


UK labour market statistics show 72.6% of those aged 16 to 64 are now employed. 30.39 million people are in employment for December 2013 to February 2014, up 239,000 from September to November 2013 and up a massive 691,000 on a year earlier.


The latest UK unemployment rate fell to 6.9%. From December to February there were 2.24 million unemployed people, 77,000 fewer than September to November 2013 and down 320,000 from a year earlier.

Our latest labour market infographic gives an overview of the new statistics. (view full size)

labour market april 2014 sml

Read the full Labour Market Statisics report: ONS Website

Please note: components may not sum exactly to totals due to rounding

Our Previous Labour Market Infographics

March 2014 | February 2014January 2014 December 2013November 2013 
October 2013September 2013 | July 2013 | June 2013 | May 2013April 2013 | March 2013
February 2013

Like this Infographic? - copy the code below to share it on your website.

<a style="border: none;" title="UK Labour Market April 2014" href=""><img alt="Infographic UK Labour Market April 2014" src=""></a><br/>Infographic by <a title="Macleod Associates" href="">Macleod Associates</a>

Tor Macleod 12:39


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