Businesses ask FE providers to ‘stop selling and start listening’

Further Education (FE) colleges and training providers should listen to businesses and stop focussing on quick sales, according to new research.

The report, commissioned by the Further Education Reputation Strategy Group (FERSG) and carried out by The Knowledge Partnership, concluded that FE colleges should become more ‘commercially savvy’ by understanding the pressures that businesses face.

FERSG published ten strategies identified from the research last week to help improve the reputation that FE providers have with businesses.

Dr Alison Birkinshaw, the chair of FERSG said: “This research provides useful information in understanding how FE is perceived by local businesses, what current relationships are like, and what influences employers.

“Every organisation involved in training will find something here they can use to build their reputation with their local businesses in the long term.”

The research suggests that FE providers can improve their reputation by publicising their industry standard teaching facilities and communicating in a way that is relevant to businesses at a variety of levels.

Employers emphasised that they wanted FE leaders to be clearly visible in the business community and to make sure that their knowledge and teaching expertise is heard.

The strategies also propose that FE providers invest in building long-term relationships with employers, as well as providing consistently high customer service at all levels of the business.

The FERSG guide to ‘What businesses really want’ guide can be downloaded here.