Colleges are sadly still proving themselves to be out of step with the seismic shift in funding priorities towards apprenticeships.

Nick Boles asked a year ago at AoC Conference why they were still letting independent training providers steal their lunch.

Little has changed since. In fact, the situation has worsened.

I get it that colleges should offer broader training opportunities than just apprenticeships.

There’s little doubt also that it takes more than 12 months to transform priorities and working practices at what are often huge institutions.

But the truth is, colleges have form on this.

We recalled in our front page story this week that then economic secretary to the treasury, John Healey, urged them at AoC conference in 2003 to be “more active” in forging training links with business.

It isn’t good enough that many are still not listening.

There’s a huge amount of extra money available to colleges that are able to evolve quickly.

The stark reality could, I fear, be economic oblivion for those that aren’t.



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  1. Many colleges are as beacons of excellence in delivering apprenticeships compared to those that ‘have got form’ if run by management and staff with the attitude and influence to regard’work based learning’ as ‘trade’…. Not acknowledging that they are themselves ‘a business’ without being business-like, or understanding the needs of business let alone know how to communicate with them. Hence the gulf between many (not all)colleges and business. Yet these extremes of college are treated alike when it comes to extra money, resources and public funded support. So instead of waiting for those to reach ‘economic oblivion’ along with their staff, learners and community, simply differentiate when it comes to hand outs or listening to their excuses. For as demonstrated in recent years, not all colleges are run the same.