Education and industry working to create 'the new extraordinary'

Now’s the time to step forward. To take the lead. To forecast and plan. To share and empower.

Now’s the time for the Further Education Sector to consolidate its links with industry and employers to drive forward the nation’s recovery post-Covid-19.

Our future prosperity and success as a nation relies on us sharing expertise; on anticipating future needs and putting the mechanisms in place now to ensure we can deliver when the time is right; on developing the skills, knowledge and behaviours that will help us adapt, be more flexible and resilient.

This is the area where colleges come into their own. Where their expertise and focus lies.

The pivotal role colleges are already playing in helping others to navigate the roadmap to recovery has become clear to me.

When lockdown started, it quickly became apparent that the community – including the business community – was looking towards us here at Burnley College as a safe harbour in a turbulent sea of conflicting information, speculation and fear.

Never was our role more important. Never had our partnerships and engagement with employers been more meaningful.

As a college we moved quickly to combat rumour with fact. We informed and empowered. We acted as a central hub for the dissemination of information. We shared our expertise willingly. We highlighted what was possible when we worked together.

Now, with Covid-19 slowly slipping from the headlines, we as a college – and others across the county – should retain and develop that position, working closely with employers and individuals to create not only ‘the new normal’ but ‘the new extraordinary’.

Working closely with stakeholders and partners, we hold the key to success post-Covid. Our representation on boards, in forums and round tables is more important than ever – bringing new insights and transferring learning from industry to industry.

Our future planning will provide industry with the skills, knowledge and dynamism it needs at the right moment, in the right place. Let’s harness today’s talented young people and those with the drive to reskill and reshape their future and nurture their potential until their moment comes to shape industry. And it will come.

Now’s the moment for FE colleges to work with others to create the roadmap to prosperity.