A catch‐all term for the initiatives, particularly in vocational further education and training, aimed at involving local employers in the planning, development, delivery, and evaluation of learning programmes. It is closely associated with the first theme of the White Paper Success for All (2002), ‘meeting needs, improving choice’, which acknowledged that existing provision at that time did not uniformly meet the requirements of local employers, and that ways to improve collaboration and communication between employers and education and training providers should be developed.
Many further and higher education institutions have responded to this challenge by creating business units to centralize responsibility for employer links and engagement, and to separate this aspect of provision from that funded by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC); others devolve it to individual departments, a strategy which may enable them to avoid internal competition or potential communication problems. Typically, local partnerships are formed with Business Links, chambers of commerce, and JobCentre Plus, as well as Regional Boards of the LSC. The governing bodies of education providers offer a universally used forum for engagement, in addition to other formal opportunities. See also Centres of Vocational Excellence; Entry to Employment; NEET; work‐based learning; Young Apprenticeships.