157 Group renames

A number of members of the Emsi UK team were privileged to attend the relaunch of the 157 Group of Colleges, on 19th October, under the new name Collab Group. The Group was established ten years ago in response to paragraph 157 of Sir Andrew Foster’s report, Review of the Future Role of Further Education Colleges, which called for:

“…greater involvement of principals in national representation, in particular those from larger, successful colleges where management capacity and capability exists to release them for this work. There is a strong need for articulate FE college principals to be explaining the services they give to society and how colleges can make a significant contribution to the economy and to developing fulfilled citizens.”

The vision

Since its inception, this has driven the Group’s vision, and it has been very successful in shaping the FE sector and government policy in a number of ways, including through think pieces, publications, peer networks, the Leadership Conversation Project, the Prevent Toolkit, STEM, and Study Programmes.

But in October last year, under the new leadership of Ian Pretty, the group began a period of consultation in which the basic question asked was how the group could continue to innovate, respond and remain relevant in the light of major changes in the sector. The result of the consultation process has now seen the rebranding and renaming of the Group as Collab, and at the relaunch event Ian Pretty explained the thinking behind the change, and the Group’s mission in the months and years ahead:

“From today we will be Collab Group, putting collaboration at the very heart of our mission. Never losing sight of what has gone before, but steadfastly focused on the future. A future where our economic growth isn’t hindered by skills gaps, where each learner is given the greatest opportunity to succeed, and where the FE sector is so entwined with the needs of government and business that it is a commercial and self-sustaining vehicle for social change and economic improvement for both local communities and for this country.”

Economic Impact Study

One of the actions taken during the review process was the commissioning of Emsi — one of the Group’s corporate partners — to produce an Economic Impact Study looking at the aggregate economic impact of the Group’s 32 colleges. In the first instance, the results answer Sir Andrew Foster’s original call for the sector to articulate how colleges make a significant contribution to the economy and to developing fulfilled citizens. But more than that, they now provide a huge impetus for the group to move forward and seek the kind of collaborative efforts they are looking to build with local and national employers, as well as with the Government, knowing that their contribution to the UK economy means that they come to the table as a major player and an equal partner.

Although the full report has not yet been released, here are just three of the findings from the study, which were shared at the relaunch, and which show the return on investment that Collab Group Colleges give to three stakeholder groups:

Emsi’s Managing Director, Andy Durman, commented:

The results of our study show very clearly the huge contribution that Collab Group Colleges have on the lives of learners, businesses and the UK economy as a whole. We are thrilled to be one of the Group’s corporate partners, and we were excited to hear Ian Pretty set out a vision we share — that of a sector working more collaboratively with business, Government and economic development agencies to find solutions to the nation’s skills and productivity gaps.

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