Have just been to a meeting where we discussed, inter alia, the Leitch Review of Skills and its potential impact on the OU.
For those of you who’ve not had a chance to read it cover to cover, the general gist is – surprise, surprise – that the UK needs a lot more skills. At all levels.
How this is to be achieved varies by level. The Review urges shifting much more Government resource in to basic and intermediate level skills. It also says there should be far more at degree level and above, but says that the expansion here should be funded by employers and individuals. The Review also says that offerings from HE providers must be much more “demand-led”.
The OU’s Council – our ultimate governing body – looked at all this, and I’ve seen the briefing paper they had and indirectly heard their response. It seems pretty smart. As I understand it, it goes:
a) The OU is pretty well connected with employers already – though of course we can do better;
b) Don’t for one moment assume that there will be a sudden huge flood of new money in to HE from employers – there won’t; and
c) Note that the Government has yet to set out a timetable for implementing the Review – assuming it decides to do so.
There is a lot of potential for exciting stuff post-Leitch, but there’s a lot of problems too. (I’m particularly skeptical of the role they envisage for Sector Skills Councils, for one thing, although at least it’s not recommending a whole new machinery for doing that job.) I think we’ll need to wait and see before anything dramatic arrives.
Joining things up in my head, I think that the Leitch push to be more demand-led, more bespoke, and more cost-effective (all at the same time!) cries out for a Web 2.0-style mass customisation operation. How we do that at scale, though, is a huge challenge.