The Collab Group has pledged to undertake a “substantial research project” to build supporting evidence that the college sector has a core role to play in the development and delivery of higher technical education.
Writing in FE week, on behalf of the group – which represents a network of 29 colleges in the UK – Chief Executive Ian Pretty hopes that the research will show policy-makers, employers and others how level 4 and 5 courses are effectively equipping learners for work in the technical field.
“Generally, courses at this level are more vocational in nature than those offered at level 6 (degree level) and often work in conjunction with employers to provide students with experience suited to specific industries,” he writes.
While college students are ready to begin work straight away after completing their course, university graduates often have to take up lower levels of education in order to become employable, Pretty explained.
He railed against the “systemic biases across our education and employment systems [which] still make degrees the go-to path for those wishing to continue education past level 3 (A/T levels).”
His comments come after the government published a white paper earlier in the year in which it outlined its intention to improve the level of technical education across the UK.
The government wants to do more to ensure learners are leaving college and university with skills which match the deficiencies currently affecting the UK’s labour force, leading to a high-skilled, high-wage economy.
The report came amid fears that England could see its position in the OECD’s rankings fall, if current trends continue as projected.
“Increasing the provision of higher technical education at levels 4 to 5 is seen as a key means to address it,” Pretty stressed.
In order to get better uptake of level 4 or 5 courses – with the majority of places currently taken up by older learners – the government has to paint colleges in a better light, says the Collab Group.