22 Jan 2009

New partnership will improve workforce skills and employer competitiveness

Fdf (Foundation Degree Forward), the national body that seeks to stimulate, support and sustain employer partnerships with higher education, is to sign a new and strategically important agreement with the Open University.
The partnership with the OU, which is the UK’s only university dedicated to distance learning, has been created to complement both organisations’ common focus on promoting educational opportunity by providing high-quality university education to all who wish to realise their ambitions.
The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding represents a commitment by fdf and the Open University to make a positive contribution to supporting and sustaining the long-term development of the adult workforce.
“Never has access to Higher Education and high level skills been more significant,” explained Professor Derek Longhurst, fdf Chief Executive. “This is a strategically important agreement that will address the issues currently facing employers in all sectors during the recession.
“In the current economic down turn an appropriately skilled workforce can give an employer competitive advantage and help to ensure that they are strongly positioned to take advantage of economic recovery when it comes. This collaboration is vital to ensure flexible, high quality and relevant programmes are available to meet the needs of both employees and employers.”
“The Open University prides itself on providing relevant skills to help people achieve their goals in life,” Open University Pro-Vice Chancellor for Curriculum and Awards, Professor Alan Tait said.
“The partnership between the Open University and fdf demonstrates our shared commitment to lifelong learning, skills pathways and workforce development with a commitment to skill development to benefit the UK. Both the Open University and fdf are already working in partnership with other organisations, such as Unionlearn, to develop work-based higher education initiatives to create greater opportunities for people to gain higher level skills. This new agreement further strengthens both of the organisations’ commitment to the aspirations of the Leitch Review of Skills.” he said.
Prof Longhurst added, “The Open University is a unique institution, respected not only nationally but also internationally. The OU’s enthusiasm to work with fdf to develop employer-led programmes constitutes a significant public acknowledgement of both organisations to improving economic competitiveness, and addressing issues of social disadvantage.”
A formal signing of the Memorandum of Understanding by Prof Longhurst and Prof Gourley will take place at the House of Commons on Tuesday, January 27.
The event will be attended by David Lammy MP, Minister for Higher Education and Intellectual Property, along with employer groups and representatives of higher education institutions and the public sector.

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