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UK announces new body to promote VET & skills sector

The UK has launched a new UK Skills Partnership, a collective body that will more actively and strategically promote the UK’s technical vocational and training expertise globally.

Liam Fox UK Skills Partnership launchSecretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox talked of "how vital this sector is to the UK’s future trading relationships" at the launch event. Photo: The PIE News

"It could be argued that we have lacked a strategic UK skills offer"

It was announced by Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox, at an event that saw the FE and training sector, K-12, English language training and higher ed convene.

Partners of the new UK Skills Partnership will include bodies such as the Association of Colleges, Universities UK and the Federation for Industry Sector Skills and Standards.

“The UK is a world leader in education exports, and anywhere in the world, British education is in demand,” said Fox.

But he added, “It could be argued that we have lacked a strategic UK skills offer, to engage in broader based, larger scale programs overseas. I think it’s a fair criticism.

He explained the new body will “build our capacity, reach and engagement in international activities, and collective insight on matters relating to vocational skills development in international markets”.

Fox also announced a new DIT Education Advisory Group, which will provide a forum for senior leaders in the education sector to explore global trade and investment opportunities.

“[The referendum] is an opportunity to build a new outward-looking Britain”

It will consist of representative bodies covering universities, vocational training, international schools, education technology, early years education and English language training.

Minister for Investment, Mark Garnier, who was also at the launch, added, “I’m delighted that we’re creating two new platforms to help the sector operate in overseas markets.

“As an international economic department we will work with the industry to unlock its exporting potential, and create a new generation of young people with a personal connection to Britain.”

Fox couldn’t let the announcement go by without mentioning Britain’s looming new trading position once it leaves the EU. He commented that this meant “an opportunity to build a new outward-looking Britain” and pledged to “use our influence to open new markets across the world to British businesses”.

Geoff Gladding, sector lead at the education team at the DIT, outlined potential markets for “high value campaigns” in the future, while emphasising that his global team listens to stakeholders before deciding which markets to target.

Countries or regions he detailed included Europe, India, Turkey, Egypt, Sri Lanka, East Africa, Australia and the US.

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