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It is a period for the sector to rethink its role and purposes taking account in particular, of the greater freedoms and flexibilities and of the new expectations about the roles of citizens and their relationship with society.Ministers are indeed urging the sector to do so.

More than ever, as budget reductions take effect, it is vital that our sector, with its role in building the capacity of individuals within their communities and in the economy, develops its forward strategy based on analysis and intelligence which captures leading thinking from across the public sphere.

With this in mind, LSIS approached the 2020 Public Services Hub at the RSA to carry out research to help us make sense of the potential role of our sector for the longer term in what they describe as the new public services ecosystem.

Sir Andrew Foster and Hilary Cottam, Chair and commissioner respectively of the cross-party Commission on 2020 Public Services, made presentations to LSIS policy seminars in the summer of 2010. These stimulated debate and challenged our thinking about the opportunities and scale of changes ahead. Following the publication of the Commission’s final report, we therefore approached the Hub which is building on its work to carry out research to scope the implications, challenges and potential of their analysis for our sector.

We believe that at this time, an independent and critical perspective from experts in public services, who have an interest in, but are not deeply embedded in our sector, will be particularly beneficial. The Hub’s report therefore locates further education within a wider narrative about public service reform and the longer-term changes ahead and it challenges LSIS and the sector to step up with the best of the public sphere to create our own future within the emerging new parameters.

Our hope is that this report will foster debate and ambition to support the sector in envisioning and determining its own future. While the report was clearly commissioned to support the further education and skills sector, we are nonetheless aware that it also has profound implications for LSIS and how we perceive and deliver our role. In LSIS we therefore look forward to engaging in discussions, receiving comments and feedback on this report and understanding what it means for both those leading organisations in the sector and for us in supporting your continuing development.

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