Vocational Skills Solutions

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Vocational Skills Solutions's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Vocational Skills Solutions is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett, MP
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles, MP

www.vocationalsolutions.co.uk

BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2019
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Review of the Year
14 | REVIEW OF THE YEAR
Under new measures,
children from abusive
households will be able to
get placements in schools
much more quickly
Helping children fleeing domestic abuse
get school places more quickly is part
of a package of measures announced
by Damian Hinds, the former education
secretary, in a major speech in June.
“We understand children in care
have very poor outcomes,” said Mr
Hinds, adding: “Actually the truth is
the outcomes for children in need of
a social worker are almost as bad but
there are five times as many of them.
“We also know the effects of this
sustain. Overall if you’ve needed
contact with a social worker at any
time since year 5, on average you are
going to score 20 grades lower across
eight GCSEs.
“We need to improve the visibility of
this group, both in schools and in the
system as a whole… and improve our
knowledge of what works to support
and help these children. We must not
lower our expectations for them – for
these children it is more important that
they can do their very best to make
the most of their talents when they’re
atschool.”
Citing research showing that three
children in every classroom have
had contact with a social worker
and 1.6 million had needed a social
worker during the previous three
years, the government’s package of
measuresincludes:
» Changing the school admissions
code and speeding up the in-year
admissions process so vulnerable
children get a school place as quickly
as possible
» Ensuring that teacher training
and social work standards give
professionals the necessary
knowledge and skills on
mentalhealth
» Better information-sharing between
councils and schools, so that social
workers know if a child they support
is excluded from school
» Working across government to tackle
causes of disadvantage including
domestic abuse, drug and alcohol
misuse, mental health issues and
serious violence
» Ensuring disadvantaged children are
in education by taking forward the
Timpson Review recommendations
and tackling off-rolling, absence and
exclusions.
Schools will also receive guidance on
how to use the pupil premium – extra
funding given for disadvantaged
children – most effectively.
Undoubtedly, some of the schools who
will receive such guidance are featured
in this document. The pupil premium
has been a significant focus for
The
Parliamentary Review
in years past,
and so it is this year for many of the
representatives that follow.
Plans to support the most disadvantaged
children
15VOCATIONAL SKILLS SOLUTIONS |
EDUCATIONAL SUPPORT
Under new measures,
children from abusive
households will be able to
get placements in schools
much more quickly
Helping children fleeing domestic abuse
get school places more quickly is part
of a package of measures announced
by Damian Hinds, the former education
secretary, in a major speech in June.
“We understand children in care
have very poor outcomes,” said Mr
Hinds, adding: “Actually the truth is
the outcomes for children in need of
a social worker are almost as bad but
there are five times as many of them.
“We also know the effects of this
sustain. Overall if you’ve needed
contact with a social worker at any
time since year 5, on average you are
going to score 20 grades lower across
eight GCSEs.
“We need to improve the visibility of
this group, both in schools and in the
system as a whole… and improve our
knowledge of what works to support
and help these children. We must not
lower our expectations for them – for
these children it is more important that
they can do their very best to make
the most of their talents when they’re
atschool.”
Citing research showing that three
children in every classroom have
had contact with a social worker
and 1.6 million had needed a social
worker during the previous three
years, the government’s package of
measuresincludes:
» Changing the school admissions
code and speeding up the in-year
admissions process so vulnerable
children get a school place as quickly
as possible
» Ensuring that teacher training
and social work standards give
professionals the necessary
knowledge and skills on
mentalhealth
» Better information-sharing between
councils and schools, so that social
workers know if a child they support
is excluded from school
» Working across government to tackle
causes of disadvantage including
domestic abuse, drug and alcohol
misuse, mental health issues and
serious violence
» Ensuring disadvantaged children are
in education by taking forward the
Timpson Review recommendations
and tackling off-rolling, absence and
exclusions.
Schools will also receive guidance on
how to use the pupil premium – extra
funding given for disadvantaged
children – most effectively.
Undoubtedly, some of the schools who
will receive such guidance are featured
in this document. The pupil premium
has been a significant focus for
The
Parliamentary Review
in years past,
and so it is this year for many of the
representatives that follow.
Plans to support the most disadvantaged
children
Phil Juniper, Managing Director
Helping people to develop
fundamental knowledge and skills
Phil Juniper established Vocational Skills Solutions in
February 2014. A national private training provider, VSS
deliver apprenticeship to employees in the workplace and
back-to-work programmes to unemployed individuals across
England. The main locations in which the company operate
are Liverpool, the West Midlands, London, Manchester and
Yorkshire and the Humber, and their head offices are in Bury,
Lancashire. Phil tells
The Parliamentary Review
more about VSS’
mission and what they seek to do going forward.
For our first three years, we worked as a subcontractor, but in November 2017 we
were awarded our first direct contract with the Education & Skills Funding Agency
for adult provision for unemployed learners. We were then awarded our first direct
contract for apprenticeship delivery in January 2018, and last year we saw 300 per
cent growth. In 2019, we expect to triple in size once more.
Forging a path
At 14 years old, I ran away from home. I lived in temporary accommodation in
Yorkshire for two or three years, and I got myself back to Manchester at 16, where
I was on and off the street and in and out of trouble.
At 17, I joined the army. That grounded and disciplined me; I spent over five years
on operational duty around the world in Bosnia, Kosovo and Ireland before joining
a private security firm in America where I went overseas to Iraq and Afghanistan.
FACTS ABOUT
VOCATIONAL SKILLS SOLUTIONS
»Managing Director: Phil
Juniper
»Established in 2014
»Head office in Manchester,
other offices in Liverpool,
Birmingham and London
»Services: Apprenticeships and
pre-employment training
»VSS grew by 300 per cent in
2018, and Phil expects the
company to triple again in
2019
Vocational Skills
Solutions
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
16 | VOCATIONAL SKILLS SOLUTIONS
I didn’t cope well when I came out of
the army and found myself slipping
back into the old ways. I thankfully
got myself out of it and, in early 2003,
discovered the world of training.
Subcontractor days
I started working for other people
delivering commercial training, and I
stumbled onto government-funded
training in 2008. I started working
with a large Nottinghamshire-based
provider, before setting up on my own
in 2010 with a business partner.
It was then that we outlined our own
vision: we wanted to give people the
qualifications they needed to allow
them to proceed in life.
We created a business where
unemployed people who had been
failed by society and their families
could thrive. We helped to get them
on a career path that was suitable
and change their lives as a result.
Unfortunately, we were not paid a
large sum of money from our main
contractor in early 2014, which meant
we had to shut that company down,
and we started fresh with VSS.
Vocational Skills Solutions
When we set up VSS, we had a clearer
picture of what we could do, and
all the mechanisms and experience
in place to achieve that. We wanted
to reach the people who were the
furthest away from employment
– be that because of entrenched
deprivation, homelessness or economic
inactivity – and provide them with
a career path to a better future for
themselves and their families.
We take adult learners in at Entry
Level 1, where they have a maths and
English age of between five and seven
years, and develop them up to Level 2
basic skills. The aim is for them to then
achieve a vocational qualification and
move into full-time employment.
This career development is so
important, and it has to come from a
plan. It’s not just about giving people
the skills – it’s about changing their
mindset. Family-wide social issues and
deeply entrenched deprivation are
such obstacles for people to overcome.
The people we work with need to
understand that there is a better life
available to them – and that reaching it
is achievable.
Government devolution of
adult education
In 2018, the government announced
their intention to devolve the adult
education budget from August 1,
2019, in a number of areas, four of
which were our catchment areas –
London, Manchester, Liverpool and the
West Midlands – and the value of our
contract was going to be decreased
by around £800,000 as a result. This
caused us real concern.
After writing new tenders for these
devolved areas – a fairly arduous
process in itself – we have now
secured that funding back from local
authorities. Government intervention
Maths and English
courses to increase basic
skills
We created a
business
where
unemployed
people who
had been
failed by
society and
their families
could thrive
17VOCATIONAL SKILLS SOLUTIONS |
EDUCATIONAL SUPPORT
is always a big challenge for us –
education support is a volatile industry,
and as policy changes we continue to
experience difficulties.
Staffing and quality issues
As funding has been cut over the
years, we have continually struggled
not just to recruit, but to recruit high-
quality staff. We want to provide high-
level courses in line with Ofsted and
ESFA recommendations – our provision
needs to help people to move forward
and develop, rather than just achieving
pass marks – and with that we need
quality staff.
The problem arises, however, when
we recognise that there just isn’t the
money in the apprenticeship industry
to pay the salaries that we think we
need to in order to deliver true quality.
There are a lot of good apprenticeship
assessors in the industry, for instance,
who have gone back to their
vocational sector rather than working
in the further education sector.
We do pay above and beyond, but
it’s not enough to really pull the best
people back from another sector. As
such, we’ve had to look at addressing
our skills gap with younger people –
finding those that have the mindset,
the ethos and the drive and developing
them appropriately.
We need to have the right philosophy
if we are to overcome this obstacle,
and I’m positive that we do, but it
is a challenge. We don’t tolerate
poor performance, and retention is a
constant problem – there is a balance
to be struck, but our learners simply
cannot suffer from poor delivery.
Planning for future prosperity
After the devolution of the AEB,
we weren’t invited to tender in
Manchester, but were for Liverpool,
the West Midlands and London. We’ve
recently been notified that we have
won all three tenders and we are the
only training provider in England to
win all of these areas. This is a massive
achievement for us, and it will allow us
to more than triple in size throughout
2019 in line with our business plan.
We know where we want to be in
five years’ time as a business. We also
recently celebrated our first Ofsted
monitoring visit, which went well, and
can confidently say that we’re past a
turning point and are looking forward
to the next year in our growth.
Now, our focus is on becoming a
provider of choice for learners and
employers alike. The landscape of
education may be ever-changing,
but we are now positive about our
role within it and look forward to
delivering high-quality provision for the
people who need it the most for years
tocome.
The people we
work with need
to understand
that there is a
better life
available to
them – and that
reaching it is
achievable
Career development
should be a priority for
everyone
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2019
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
16 | VOCATIONAL SKILLS SOLUTIONS
I didn’t cope well when I came out of
the army and found myself slipping
back into the old ways. I thankfully
got myself out of it and, in early 2003,
discovered the world of training.
Subcontractor days
I started working for other people
delivering commercial training, and I
stumbled onto government-funded
training in 2008. I started working
with a large Nottinghamshire-based
provider, before setting up on my own
in 2010 with a business partner.
It was then that we outlined our own
vision: we wanted to give people the
qualifications they needed to allow
them to proceed in life.
We created a business where
unemployed people who had been
failed by society and their families
could thrive. We helped to get them
on a career path that was suitable
and change their lives as a result.
Unfortunately, we were not paid a
large sum of money from our main
contractor in early 2014, which meant
we had to shut that company down,
and we started fresh with VSS.
Vocational Skills Solutions
When we set up VSS, we had a clearer
picture of what we could do, and
all the mechanisms and experience
in place to achieve that. We wanted
to reach the people who were the
furthest away from employment
– be that because of entrenched
deprivation, homelessness or economic
inactivity – and provide them with
a career path to a better future for
themselves and their families.
We take adult learners in at Entry
Level 1, where they have a maths and
English age of between five and seven
years, and develop them up to Level 2
basic skills. The aim is for them to then
achieve a vocational qualification and
move into full-time employment.
This career development is so
important, and it has to come from a
plan. It’s not just about giving people
the skills – it’s about changing their
mindset. Family-wide social issues and
deeply entrenched deprivation are
such obstacles for people to overcome.
The people we work with need to
understand that there is a better life
available to them – and that reaching it
is achievable.
Government devolution of
adult education
In 2018, the government announced
their intention to devolve the adult
education budget from August 1,
2019, in a number of areas, four of
which were our catchment areas –
London, Manchester, Liverpool and the
West Midlands – and the value of our
contract was going to be decreased
by around £800,000 as a result. This
caused us real concern.
After writing new tenders for these
devolved areas – a fairly arduous
process in itself – we have now
secured that funding back from local
authorities. Government intervention
Maths and English
courses to increase basic
skills
We created a
business
where
unemployed
people who
had been
failed by
society and
their families
could thrive
17VOCATIONAL SKILLS SOLUTIONS |
EDUCATIONAL SUPPORT
is always a big challenge for us –
education support is a volatile industry,
and as policy changes we continue to
experience difficulties.
Staffing and quality issues
As funding has been cut over the
years, we have continually struggled
not just to recruit, but to recruit high-
quality staff. We want to provide high-
level courses in line with Ofsted and
ESFA recommendations – our provision
needs to help people to move forward
and develop, rather than just achieving
pass marks – and with that we need
quality staff.
The problem arises, however, when
we recognise that there just isn’t the
money in the apprenticeship industry
to pay the salaries that we think we
need to in order to deliver true quality.
There are a lot of good apprenticeship
assessors in the industry, for instance,
who have gone back to their
vocational sector rather than working
in the further education sector.
We do pay above and beyond, but
it’s not enough to really pull the best
people back from another sector. As
such, we’ve had to look at addressing
our skills gap with younger people –
finding those that have the mindset,
the ethos and the drive and developing
them appropriately.
We need to have the right philosophy
if we are to overcome this obstacle,
and I’m positive that we do, but it
is a challenge. We don’t tolerate
poor performance, and retention is a
constant problem – there is a balance
to be struck, but our learners simply
cannot suffer from poor delivery.
Planning for future prosperity
After the devolution of the AEB,
we weren’t invited to tender in
Manchester, but were for Liverpool,
the West Midlands and London. We’ve
recently been notified that we have
won all three tenders and we are the
only training provider in England to
win all of these areas. This is a massive
achievement for us, and it will allow us
to more than triple in size throughout
2019 in line with our business plan.
We know where we want to be in
five years’ time as a business. We also
recently celebrated our first Ofsted
monitoring visit, which went well, and
can confidently say that we’re past a
turning point and are looking forward
to the next year in our growth.
Now, our focus is on becoming a
provider of choice for learners and
employers alike. The landscape of
education may be ever-changing,
but we are now positive about our
role within it and look forward to
delivering high-quality provision for the
people who need it the most for years
tocome.
The people we
work with need
to understand
that there is a
better life
available to
them – and that
reaching it is
achievable
Career development
should be a priority for
everyone

www.vocationalsolutions.co.uk

This article was sponsored by Vocational Skills Solutions. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster