Governing Education and Training Systems in England

Some Lessons from the United States

Published in: SKOPE Working Paper No. 121 (Oxford: SKOPE, Department of Education, University of Oxford, Jan. 2015), 58 p

by Cathy Stasz

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Recent changes in education and training policy in England continue to focus on creating a 'demand-led' system in an environment where public funds are dwindling and where more responsibility is being devolved away from central government. This raises questions about governance of the system, among others, and the roles that key system actors are expected to play. This paper broadly discusses education and training system policies that focus on workforce development in England and the US, especially with regard to the role of further education colleges (community colleges in the US), employer engagement, and local workforce development bodies. The focus is on governance at the post-secondary level, as the main interest is skills development after compulsory education. The US and England share a number of features and problems that affect the education and training system, such as lack of employer involvement, the lower status of sub-baccalaureate education and training providers despite their central role in delivering vocational education and training programmes, and insufficient links between education and training provision and the labour market. The most striking differences between the American and English systems are the governance and authority structures, which are stronger in the US and afford greater scope for strategic planning by states and between states and the federal level. The experiences of community colleges in working with employers to provide workforce training may be worth further investigation as further education colleges further develop this type of provision. The US experience is less instructive with regard to quality assurance or increasing employers' engagement with education.

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