THE BLOG
16/12/2013 07:06 GMT | Updated 12/02/2014 05:59 GMT

What You (Probably) Didn't Hear About Ofsted's Report

You would be forgiven for not knowing what Ofsted said about the FE and skills sector in their annual report, which was launched this week.

After all, the national newspapers were caught up in the headlines of testing children from age seven and the poor behaviour of students.

If journalists didn't think Ofsted's review of vocational education was important, should you?

The short answer is yes, especially if you care that almost a million young people are unemployed in this country.

One of Sir Michael Wilshaw's biggest criticisms in the annual Ofsted report is that students aren't getting the skills local employers are looking for. To rectify the situation, he says there needs to be better links between employers and educators.

This is something that is lacking from the current education system, yet I've long believed it is the only way to tackle the UK's high youth unemployment rate.

It's also the reason I'm involved with the creation of Career Colleges. These new colleges will enable students to learn the right skills to meet local needs.

Employer involvement will be the lynchpin of their success. Young people will be given the opportunity to gain skills and experience of the workplace, putting them on the right path to success.

Another critique from Ofsted is that there were seven applicants for every apprenticeship vacancy. It's encouraging that so many young people now recognise the value of apprenticeships, but now we need to see employers stepping up to offer more opportunities.

Reassuringly though, not everything Wilshaw said was doom and gloom.

Colleges and training providers were praised for improving standards, with 71 per cent judged good or outstanding. That's a seven per cent improvement over last year.

And for the first time in three years, two FE colleges were judged 'outstanding' for teaching and learning.

This is encouraging, but as always, we can do better. And stronger ties between employers and educators are the key.