Posted on 20th December 2017
2017 has seen the issues of social mobility, inclusion and productivity continue to challenge Government, communities and businesses, all within the uncertain context of Brexit. To therefore be able to say, that 2017 has been the best year on record for Futures Advice, Skills and Employment, is a testament to all of our colleagues, owners, partners and customers. It’s good to be able to look back over the last year and acknowledge some of the achievements that led me to that conclusion.
February saw us achieve a long-standing goal to be recognised as ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted for our National Careers Service delivery in the East Midlands. We were the first provider of our kind in the country to do so and to be judged as ‘Good’ for our delivery in the Eastern region was equally pleasing, seeing as we had only taken on this contract two years earlier.
Shortly after our Ofsted success, March brought the news that we’d been included on the new register of apprenticeship training providers. Since May we have been able to work with levy-paying employers, offering apprenticeships, expert advice on the levy and potential training opportunities for their staff. The growth in our skills and apprenticeship delivery will come through a separate business - Futures for Business. This officially got underway in September and provides a more bespoke approach to our skills offer, enabling us to protect the impartiality of our separate guidance services. We’ll work with employers to understand their business and the challenges being faced to design effective training solutions across the East Midlands.
October brought with it the latest round of Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire County Year 11 destination figures, which I’m delighted to say have remained very positive. Thanks to the hard work of our teams and partners, 96% of Year 11 students have gone into work, further education or training after leaving school in the city and 98% in the county. Linked to our ownership structure, this work of supporting young people into appropriate further learning remains a critical part of our role, despite continued reductions in funding.
In the light of such funding cuts for our more long-standing work, our ambition for diversification, captured in our medium-term, 2020 plan, started in earnest during the year. This was furthered by the acquisition of Loughborough-based training agency, IMPACT Employment Solutions during the autumn. We want to build on IMPACT’s success, while working with the team to widen our own services and footprint across the East Midlands and in time Central Eastern parts of England.
To top an incredibly busy October, we secured £390,000 of Adult Education Funding to deliver training for job seekers, as well as employees wanting to up-skill. We’re already working with some big companies in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire to deliver training schemes, and this funding will give that work a significant boost.
November saw the launch of the new Nottingham Jobs website. As the newest members of the Nottingham Jobs partnership that already existed between Nottingham City Council and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), I was pleased that our role in the redevelopment of the website has had such a positive impact. The team, drawn from all three partners, are actively supporting the sites new registrants. We’re delighted to continue to support the delivery of this seamless Nottingham city-wide employment and skills offer.
This month we have seen the announcement of the Government’s careers strategy, placing an increased priority on connecting schools, young people and employers together. It places increased powers with the Careers and Enterprise Company as well as acknowledging the importance of the National Careers Service in supporting adults with their next career move.
Our Leadership Team has seen some changes in recent years but particularly during 2017, with new faces now on board helping to bolster our strong and determined team.
Sandra Cowley has joined us as Commercial Director and brings a wealth of experience to the business. She will be helping us to grow our training and apprenticeship offer and secure future funding opportunities. Hayley Tarrant, our new Head of HR became part of the team in August. Hayley leads the people strategy ensuring key priorities are closely aligned with our 2020 business plan objectives
We’ve also recently been joined by Matt Davis, Head of Business Development and Fund Raising. Having worked in the voluntary sector for over 17 years, Matt brings with him experience and knowledge to help us move in to new areas of business while maintaining our high standard of customer satisfaction.
2018 will undoubtedly present a range of further uncertainties and challenges. With our strengthened leadership team in place and working even more closely with a range of partners, I’m confident that we can continue to make a significant impact to the communities and businesses that we work with.
I’d like to use this as an opportunity to wish all our colleagues, partners and customers a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. If you would like to find out more about our work or explore new partnership arrangements, please contact me directly.
Chief Executive of Futures Advice, Skills and Employment