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Where is the Adult Education Budget for Hard Working Training Providers?


There is so much talk from Government regarding the importance of an education for all and skills development is a necessity to improve social mobility and job creation, yet there is a mismatch between what Government states and what the reality is.

Government has placed a strong emphasis on apprenticeships and technical education and esteemed parity between T-skills and A-levels. This is fully endorsed by Fashion-Enter Ltd (FEL). For the last 8-years FEL has been heavily involved in the actual creation of qualifications with ABC Awards (now SEG) and have successfully delivered the qualifications and apprenticeships as evidenced by the data below.   

The recent Skills for Jobs White Paper aims at putting the employer at the forefront of vocational skills and education BUT industry does not have the current man power or the understanding on how educational systems work. FEL has been very involved in the past with the employer groups for apprenticeship standards only to find that employers are too busy with their day job. Could this be just one of the many reasons why apprenticeships today have fallen off the cliff edge?

The White Paper discusses enhanced employer leadership at a local level so key changes can be made but the all the employers that currently work with FEL have so much post-Covid pressure their head space is not about joining groups for discussions on how to integrate technical skills into the qualification curriculum. Furthermore all post – 16 qualifications are underpinned by employer led standards. How do the employers have the time to do this when so many companies are SMEs or micro businesses?   

The White Paper also reviews national oversights on skills gaps through the National Skills and Productivity Board. Is this yet another quango that is a talking shop – is this board even talking to hard working training providers that work tirelessly to create technical qualifications?

Allegedly there is additional funding for Further Education establishments to support change to provisions that are endorsed by employers and to support colleges to become accredited as College Business Centres. This is to then support business development and innovation. 

Why were niche training providers set up? Because they are the experts of what they do. Why doesn’t government listen to the training providers that perform? To become a subcontractor to a FE or HE institution is almost seen as a curse and as soon as the main contractor hits a difficult patch and makes a loss then suddenly the sub-contraction provision is withdrawn and guess what? The sub-contractor has no money for their provision whatsoever irrespective of results.

Finally, the White Paper discusses plans to develop a lifetime of skills guaranteed for everyone. Well good luck with that one. FEL straddles the private and public sector and it’s due to their innovative progressive search for technology that they have forged key relationships with Kornit and Zund to name just two. Machinery worth almost £2m is available to teach state-of-the-art technology so their learners can be industry ready from the get go. 

FE and HE institutions do not have these contacts, these resources and yet they have all the budget. It’s a dreadful retrograde step; utterly short sighted. Who on earth does the Department of Education actually listen to? Who are their advisers?  

FEL welcomed the results of the Sainsbury Review of Post -16 Skills whereby the aim was to create a system that supports learners to achieve sustained skills employment and then meet the skills that the changing economy needed. However as with all policies it’s about the implementation and to implement you need the right niche Training Providers – oh here we go again…the stop-go circles of education. 

It’s too frustrating for words. 

So what about the future…

Well FEL really believes that: 

FEL CEO Jenny Holloway commented: “When I think of the time and effort FEL and its amazing team within the Fashion Technology Academy has undertaken to create such an excellent training provision I could boil over with absolute frustration. We even wrote the qualifications at Level 1 and 2 for the industry and we know from SEG that the stitching and pattern cutting routes are one of the most successful qualifications currently due to the demand for made in the UK.

“Through no fault of our own we lost our AEB as the two colleges we were working with made losses. How can this be right! It has jeopardised the entire provision of the FTA.

“However industry recognises us and when you see the achievements rates below then we know we are performing!” 

See % for each year below. 

Stitching Academy Level 1:


Completions: 33/34

Withdrawals: 1/34

Achievement rate: 100%

2018/19 Comparison

Completions:  60/62

Withdrawals: 2/62

Achievement rate: 96.77%

2017/18 Comparison

Completions:  38/45

Withdrawals: 2/45

Achievement rate: 84.44%

2016/17 Comparison

Completions 64/78

Withdrawals 14/78

Achievement rate: 82.05%

Stitching Academy Level 2:


Completions: 17/18

Withdrawals: 1/18

Achievement rate: 94.94%

2018/19 Comparison

Completions: 36/42

Withdrawals: 6/42

Achievement rate: 85.71%

2017/18 Comparison

Completions: 22/27

Withdrawals: 5/27

Achievement rate: 88%

2016/17 Comparison

Completions 43/44

Withdrawals 1/44

Achievement rate: 97.72%

Patterns Level 1:


Completions: 28/28 Withdrawals: 0

Achievement rate: 100%

2018/19 Comparison

Completions: 34/35

Withdrawals: 1/35

Achievement rate: 97.14%

2017/18 Comparison

Completions: 12/12 

Achievement rate: 100%

2016/17 Comparison

Completions: 20/26

Withdrawals 6/26

Achievement rate 76.92%

Patterns Level 2:

Completions: 26/27

Withdrawals: 1

Achievement rate: 96.29%

2018/19 Comparison

Completions: 49/52

Projected completion: 1

Withdrawals: 2

Achievement rate: 94.23%

2017/18 comparison

Completions 31/33

Withdrawals:  2

Achievement rate 93.93%

2016/17 Comparison

Completions 15/15

Achievement rate 100%



Completions: 11 at Level 3

Withdrawals: 3

Active learners: 11 (8 at level 3, 1 completing FS, 1 Break in Learning, 3 at level 5)

 Achievement rate: 91.66%

2018/19 Comparison

Completions: 11

Withdrawals: 3

Active Apprentices: 23 (1 level 2, 18 level 3, 1 level 4, 3 level 5) 

Achievement rate: 100%

Total Apprentices: 37

2017/18 Comparison

Completions: 25 (22 at level 3, 3 at level 4)

Withdrawals: 3

Active Apprentices: 18 (1 level 2, 15 level 3, 3 level 5

Achievement rate: 100%

Total Apprentices: 46

2016/17 Comparison

Completions: 5 

Withdrawals: 6

Active Apprentices: 33

Achievement rate: 85.7% overall (60% timely, 4% below national average)

Total Apprentices: 44 (1 level 2, 38 level 3, 5 level 4) 

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