Thinking Big in 2017

As we blink dimly at our laptops and look forward to the holidays, the annus horribilis that was 2016 (at least if you are a fan of great music and classic British comedy) slips away.

Where are we now?

Last month at the AoC Conference, we asked delegates visiting our Pearson stand what they thought the key themes and challenges facing colleges were. This illustration (which we think is actually rather beautiful) represents a visual summary of the challenges and fever dreams of those 200 or so delegates who dropped by to see us and share their hopes and fears for 2017.

Illustration representing a visual summary of the challenges and fever dreams of delegates

What were the themes?

Themes ranged from the anxiety-inducing and sometimes existential - what does Brexit mean for education? How can we close the skills gap? How can we work together? - to more tangible and immediate challenges surrounding funding, retaining the right people to deliver the reforms and balancing the curriculum.

But there was a big dollop of hope and optimism too. Delegates talked about the power of digital innovation and blended learning to transform job prospects, with colleges and employers alike working together within local communities for economic wellness. Butterflies spread their wings and flew across the page representing many colleges willingness to embrace change. Meanwhile, in the main hall, the Apprenticeship Minister, Rob Halfon, used his address to encourage colleges to “think big”.

Tackling 2017 head-on

Whether you are a college, a private training provider or an employer there can be no doubt that 2017 is going to be another year of change and challenge. In April the new apprenticeship levy will go live.

Employers and centres will work together in new and sometimes (it feels) unclear ways. Colleges, more than ever, need to make themselves attractive to students and staff alike. The economic ramifications of leaving the EU will become clearer.

But out of the seemingly impenetrable fog of change, new partnerships will flourish. Anticipating and responding agilely to those changes and finding the right people to help you deliver will be key.

Join the conversation

Do you agree with our AoC delegates? What do you think are the big challenges facing your organisation over the next 12 months? Share your thoughts on our Twitter feed using the #thinkbig2017 and we will re-tweet and follow you.

Pearson will be running monthly free ‘Insight’ webinars across the year on a number of relevant topics.