It’s not every day that you get invited to the House of Lords, but on 4th December, having made my way through the tight security, I found myself standing in the Lords along with another 200 or so others at the 157 Group’s annual reception.
The event, which was hosted by Baroness Wall of New Barnet, saw the 157 Group’s launch of two publications: a 2012-2013 Impact Review and Employer Voices. Among the many speakers and attendees were the Shadow Secretary of State for Education Tristram Hunt MP, Nikki Kelly from Tottenham Hotspur Football Club and the 157 Group Chair, Peter Roberts, Chief Executive of Leeds City College.
For those who don’t know, the 157 Group is a consortium of 30 leading FE colleges whose aim is to promote and maintain high standards of education and management in the FE sector. The group, which formed in 2006, and its members strive to be at the leading edge of the sector in terms of thought leadership, practice improvement and policy influence. EMSI started working with the group in March this year, chiefly through our Economic Impact Studies, and the relationship has proved to be extremely fruitful for both parties.
For ourselves, we are proud to be partnering with a forward-thinking organisation which is at the forefront of driving, amongst many other things, strategic thinking on the economic impact colleges have on their region. For their part, the 157 Group had this to say about the relationship in their 2012-2013 Impact Review: “We are very proud of the partnership we have built with the leading data analysis firm Economic Modelling Specialists International (EMSI), which is enabling our member colleges to demonstrate the impact that they have on local economic prosperity and growth in a way that has not been done before”.
The review goes on to give an example of how we have worked with the Hull College Group to measure their social and economic impact, quoting some pretty impressive figures from the Economic Impact Study we did for them earlier this year:
- The college’s total contribution to the economy of Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire is £517m a year
- This is equivalent to £1 in every £20 spent in the region
As the Impact Review acknowledges, the Economic Impact Study is a “powerful model which will, we believe, prove valuable across the sector”.
One of the most pleasing things about the reception, at least from my perspective, was the recognition of the positive impact that colleges are having, and must continue to have, on their local economies. In his speech, Tristram Hunt MP told his audience that he was “passionate about the FE sector driving local labour markets”. You and me both Tristram, which is why EMSI are partnering with colleges throughout the country to help them achieve this goal.
I can’t help but get excited about all this. Those outside of the FE sector are gradually waking up to see the extent of the positive impact the sector is having on the UK economy, and it is great to be part of helping to showcase this for colleges. Both the 157 Group and EMSI are at the cutting edge of demonstrating this impact and it is my hope that our work with the group will continue long into the future, so that together we can continue to show the nation the great value of this sector.