17 December 2015

Paul Eeles, Chief Executive, shares his thoughts about the year gone by and what's to come in 2016.

At emfec we have had a busy but successful year and we’re pleased to end on a higher note than anticipated, following the Chancellor’s much-feared Spending Review announcement last month.

When I think back to the beginning of the year with the lead up to May’s General Election, our work this year has incorporated the theme of our 2015 annual conference: navigating the future of the FE and skills sector.

In light of sector changes, our members and partners have had to explore ways to do more with less, and we have supported this through a comprehensive CPD programme, effective partnership-building and continued parliamentary lobbying.

This time last year we published our AoC East Midlands Key Asks, highlighting the needs and priorities of the region and wider sector ahead of the General Election. We held our first emfec Parliamentary Reception hosted by Lilian Greenwood MP earlier this month, and will continue our series of principals’ dinners in the New Year to continually make your voices and priorities heard to MPs both locally and nationally.

While this year has been particularly challenging for the sector, we also have much to celebrate. Our member colleges have continued to see growth and resilience, now supporting 336,500 students across the East Midlands with a total college income of £910 million. They have also seen investment of £151 million from Local Growth Deals and now engage with 28,900 employers across the region and nationally.

We have developed projects in partnership with the Education and Training Foundation, Further Education Trust for Leadership and Erasmus + to support practitioners in new and innovative ways, and look forward to continuing these strong relationships in 2016. If you don't already know about these projects, I do encourage you to read about them on our projects page.

We have gone through some stages of rebranding over the last 12 months with a new interactive website and e-newsletters, which enable us to showcase our members' and partners' activity as well as our own. You will have noticed that the emfec logo has also changed to reflect our brand moving forwards; but rest assured we have no plans to rebrand emfec beyond recognition. We are very proud that emfec has been supporting colleges and providing quality services to its members for over 100 years - we even have a page about our history on the new website.

Which brings me on to our exciting plans to form a new strategic partnership, the Skills Education Group, which we announced in October. As the sector undergoes significant structural changes, the new group will provide the opportunity for emfec, ABC Awards and our new partner ASDAN to retain their individual strengths and brands while pooling expertise to deliver cost-effective, innovative and competitive services to the education and skills sector.

We are positive this partnership will provide even greater value for our members and further opportunities for growth, and I hope that in another 100 years emfec will still exist to support its members both regionally and nationally.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year, and hope to see many of you at our annual conference on 8 February to explore ways we can embrace the challenges and opportunities raised from this year’s changes.

Paul Eeles is Chief Executive of emfec and ABC Awards. Find out more about Paul here.