Section 2: Colleges
A Valued and Valuable Choice
There is no doubt the establishment of the larger colleges on a regional basis and some good progressive leadership at Chair and Principal level are having a positive impact on the resources, innovation and enterprise that colleges will be able to apply in a range of ways to play their full role in developing Scotland's young workforce.
Education Working for All!
The Commission's report highlights the changes in the college sector over the last three years resulting in regionally based colleges of significant scale and influence. With the structural and governance reform of the sector complete, colleges are delivering a broad range of subjects and qualifications to meet local labour market demand as set out in their outcome agreements.
Recent years have seen government re-focusing college spend on full time courses designed to get people jobs - the type of provision the Commission for Developing Scotland's Young Workforce has made very clear that young people and our economy need. Coupled with funding set to exceed £1.5bn over the 3 years from 2013/14, the sector is exceptionally well placed to play what must be a pivotal role in developing Scotland's young workforce.
Our objective is a world-class system of vocational education, in which colleges work with schools and employers to deliver learning that is directly relevant to getting a job, as a mainstream option for all pupils in the senior phase of secondary school. In doing so, we want to address gender imbalance in learning, and contribute to a significant reduction in youth unemployment by ensuring that what is on offer is relevant to labour market needs and addresses the needs of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Based on labour market intelligence and aligned with regional planning mechanisms, college outcome agreements set out how colleges will shape their curriculum and delivery arrangements, to address these priorities in the context of the regions they serve. Early adopter activity in seven college regions is exploring how more young people can have the opportunity to undertake college studies while still at school.
The key challenges for colleges lie in developing more productive partnerships with local authorities, schools and with employers, and to understand how these improve learner experiences and outcomes.
The Scottish Funding Council's role is to work with colleges and other partners at regional and national levels to plan and implement the changes required to meet the ambitions set out in the Commission's report.
Young people, parents, carers, teachers and practitioners, and employers are at the heart of this effort; success will depend on ensuring that they are central to what is offered, and to how it is delivered and promoted.
It is also crucial that colleges continue to build on the very significant progress that has been made to ensure education is tailored to the skills employers want and the skills young people need to get good jobs. That will require close engagement and strengthened partnerships with industry and employer groups. Key to that effort will be promoting the benefits to employers of working closely with colleges.
To ensure that young people can access the opportunities that are right for them, it is essential that they have a clear and accurate understanding of the value of a vocational education at college and the opportunities this can deliver. Key partners such as schools, colleges, local authorities and Skills Development Scotland all have a responsibility to engage with young people, and those who influence them, to ensure they have the right information to make informed choices.
What will be different by 2021?
As this plan's introduction sets out, developing the young workforce in Scotland requires a long term effort across many parts of the education system and among employers. From a college perspective, over the seven years of this young workforce programme, young people, their parents, teachers and practitioners, those working in colleges, training providers and employers will be able to see the following headline changes:
In year one, thinking on senior phase vocational pathways, is being developed through school-college partnerships in seven early adopter college regions. These will explore and develop opportunities for young people to develop skills for work as part of a structured programme within their school curriculum, providing routes into further learning, training or work.
In year two, building on evaluation of the early adopter activity, we will see delivery of new vocational pathways, extended in range and scale. As part of their development, college outcome agreements, informed by Skills Investment Plans (SIPs) and Regional Skills Assessments (RSAs), will fully reflect the young workforce agenda in agreements for academic year 2015-16.
In year three, we will continue to develop and expand the offer to senior phase pupils. We will know more about the destinations of full time college leavers. College outcome agreements, informed by Skills Investment Plans and Regional Skills Assessments, will continue to improve, supported by enhanced partnerships with employers, local authorities and other regional planning partners.
In year four, colleges, secondary schools and local authorities will be working more effectively in partnership to deliver vocational pathways to a wider range of senior phase pupils, with all colleges offering vocational options to the majority of secondary schools in their region. Parents, teachers and practitioners, and young people will be able to understand how colleges help learners to progress into work and higher education. Most young people will be informed about the new programmes available and the potential jobs and careers to which they lead.
In years five and six, colleges will be working in greatly improved partnership with all secondary schools and employers, with vocational course options available across all schools. Parents and young people will be fully informed with young people choosing the new, more relevant vocational programmes.
In year seven, the system is tested and its impact established, with more young people completing vocational qualifications, and progressing more efficiently to higher levels of study and employment.
Key themes and milestones for colleges
Achieving our ambitions for the young workforce requires a focus on the following themes in relation to colleges:
- Young people able to access more vocational options during the senior phase of secondary school, which deliver routes into good jobs and careers, developed through effective partnership between schools, colleges, local authorities and other partners
- Improving opportunities and experiences for all learners, with a focus on reducing gender imbalance on course take-up
- Provision aligned with economic needs and regional planning, with a focus on STEM where appropriate
- Supporting college leaders and staff to develop the skills required to meet the Commission's ambitions for the sector
- Further developing college outcome agreements to underpin improvements and measure progress.
The milestones set out below detail what this will involve over the lifetime of the programme.
During 2014-15, we will see or are already seeing:
- Early adopter activity for senior phase pupils established in seven college regions;
- Key performance measures agreed with college sector;
- College outcome agreements for academic year 2015-16 developed with involvement from local authorities;
- A re-prioritised Service Level Agreement between Scottish Funding Council and Education Scotland, and Scottish Funding Council and College Development Network making clear how their work will support the Commission's objectives;
- A joint plan from Scottish Funding Council and Skills Development Scotland to support the use of Skills Investment Plans and Regional Skills Assessments to inform college outcome agreements and the allocation of Modern Apprenticeships.
During 2015-16, we will see:
- Publication by Scottish Funding Council of an analysis of the commitments made by colleges in their 2015-16 outcome agreements - including plans to develop senior phase vocational pathways in all regions;
- A plan from Scottish Funding Council to enhance college engagement in Community Planning Partnerships;
- Young people benefitting from better work-related learning experiences;
- Scottish Funding Council publishing a plan to reduce gender imbalance on courses in joint action with Skills Development Scotland and other partners;
- College outcome agreements signed off for academic year 2016-17, with implementation plans agreed with local authorities;
- Scottish Funding Council develops a strategy to promote the value to employers of engaging with colleges;
- Early adopter activity evaluated and lessons inform the development of college outcome agreement guidance;
- Capacity building to support enhanced employer engagement in the college sector;
- Regional curriculum planning established informed by Skills Investment Plans and Regional Skills Assessments.
During 2016-17, we will see:
- College outcome agreements for academic year 2017-18 demonstrate more opportunities for young people, building on the development of senior phase vocational pathways;
- Scottish Funding Council implementing their plan to reduce gender imbalance on courses which they will report on annually;
- STEM prioritised within college curriculum planning, where appropriate;
- A new standard for work experience in place for colleges;
- Scottish Funding Council report on college leaver destinations for 2014-15 leavers;
- Colleges outcome agreements will reflect active and effective engagement with employers and in the community planning process, regional curriculum planning established, informed by Skills Investment Plans and Regional Skills Assessments.
During 2017-18, we will see:
- All colleges offering vocational options to the majority of secondary schools in their region;
- College outcome agreements for academic year 2018-19 signed off, showing evidence of well-developed partnerships with secondary schools, local authorities and employers;
- Publication of improved college quality and performance information.
During 2018-19, we will see:
College outcome agreements for academic year 2019-20 signed off, showing evidence of well-developed partnerships with secondary schools, local authorities and employers;
- Vocational course options available across all schools.
During 2019-2020, we will see:
- College outcome agreements for academic year 2020-21 reflect a regional curriculum, with vocational options widely available, informed by secondary schools, local authorities and employers.
During 2020-2021, we will see:
- College outcome agreements for academic year 2021-22 reflect a regional curriculum, with vocational options widely available, informed by secondary schools, local authorities and employers.
Education Working for All! Recommendations
This activity delivers recommendations 4, 5, 6, 12, 17, 29, 34.
KPI 1 - Be one of the top five performing countries in the EU for youth unemployment by reducing the relative ratio of youth unemployment to 25-64 unemployment to the level of the fifth best country in the EU by 2021.
KPI 2 - Be one of the top five performing countries in the EU for youth unemployment by reducing the youth unemployment rate to match the fifth best country in the EU by 2021.
KPI 4 - Increase the percentage of young college students moving into employment or higher level study by 2021.
KPI 6 - Increase the percentage of employers recruiting young people directly from education to 35 per cent by 2018.
KPI 8 - Increase by 5 percentage points the minority gender share in each of the 10 largest and most imbalanced superclasses by 2021.