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APPETITE FOR CHANGE AT LAUNCH OF APSCO EDUCATION

APPETITE FOR CHANGE AT LAUNCH OF APSCO EDUCATION

The launch of APSCo education last week at the headquarters of The National Union of Teachers demonstrated a real appetite for change, says Ann Swain Chief Executive. "We had a packed room of education recruiters who listened and debated with a prestigious panel of education stakeholders about the future of the quality mark, the procurement landscape and the challenges of evolving legislation."

The launch was chaired by Eddie Austin, COO of CoreECS which incorporates ITN Mark and NP Teachers and who will also chair the newly formed education sector group. He opened the debate by talking about: “An evolving education sector which demands so much more in terms of quality and service delivery than of most traditional recruitment companies.” He was joined by a panel of experts representing amongst others,  academies, government procurement, recruitment and the CBI.

Elaine Simpson, Chair of Trustees at The National Children's Bureau gave a presentation about the ever evolving picture of procuring services and how the time had never been so ripe for the launch of APSCo education. “It’s important that this group works together to increase the professionalism and status of the sector. Too often the failure of one can damage the reputation of all”.

There was a lively panel debate around frameworks which, according to the Government Procurement Service are designed to take away bureaucracy although some education recruiters in the room felt that they simply added to it by discouraging the building of relationships – and gave  an opportunity to drive down margins. “Frameworks should be a climbing frame in order for procurers to make buying decisions”, said Ann Swain “They should not be used to hammer down margins – because if that happens then it is quality and safety that becomes the real cost.” Many recruiters felt that the Government Procurement Service should engage more with recruiters before releasing new frameworks.  “We need to feel represented rather than dictated to”, said one attendee.

The Quality Mark was also debated and while it was generally accepted that recruiters were very vigorously audited, there was a feeling that the mark was in need of updating and that end users needed to be involved in setting the parameters of the mark in partnership with the awarding body – and crucially that the mark was marketed properly to the end users so they really knew what it meant.

Closing the debate, Eddie Austin said:  “I have in the past been critical of trade associations that offer a lot but deliver little and where the voice of the few dictated the direction of the many.  I believe that now, with the right level of industry leadership, we can create an enabling body that can influence and shape the education recruitment sector in being recognised and respected. This new sector body needs to have an appetite to challenge and create a new normal, it needs to engage with policy and decision makers at all levels and it needs to be capable of listening to its members rather than telling them.”

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