FE news at a glance

Revamped inspections to grade FE provision

Ofsted is planning to grade colleges and training providers on their apprenticeships, traineeships and adult-learning programmes as part of a wide-ranging inspection overhaul. The watchdog is considering separate grades for different areas of FE provision, which could also include 16-19 study programmes, employability and community learning. Lorna Fitzjohn, Ofsted's national director for further education and skills, said the changes would help employers to make informed decisions about which FE providers to work with. She said the move followed concerns over the quantity and quality of apprenticeships, which can be delivered by FE colleges, independent providers or employers. There will also be more regular inspections for institutions that are rated good.

`No Neets' must be target, says education charity

Vocational education charity the Edge Foundation will be pressing politicians to tackle the problem of Neets (young people not in education, employment or training) in the run-up to the general election. The charity said that despite signs of progress, too many young people aged 19-24 were still classed as Neet. Edge's manifesto, published last week, states: "The next government must equip young people with the technical, practical and vocational skills they so desperately need. The target must be simple and bold: no Neets." To achieve this, the organisation wants the next government to create more specialist 14-18 schools and to "reinvigorate" practical learning in classrooms, laboratories, workshops and even outdoors.

Why employees are for life, not just for business

A group of colleges and training providers have joined forces for a major campaign to persuade employers to develop their staff's skills. The National Consortium of Colleges and Providers (NCCP) have started the For Business, For Life campaign to urge businesses to use cash from the European Union Social Fund to improve their employees' literacy and numeracy skills. Fully funded training is available to all businesses but the money is available for only one year. NCCP chairman Harvey Young said: "We want to see more attention given to those already in employment who may not be work-ready, and whose lack of confidence in English and maths is holding them and their employers back."

Experts propose lifelong learning commission

Calls are growing for an independent review into the UK's long-term skills needs. Adult education body Niace is proposing that a royal commission be established to set out a vision for the next 20 years of lifelong learning, encompassing schools, further education, higher education, the workplace and beyond. At a fringe meeting at the Liberal Democrat conference in Glasgow last week, the proposal gained the backing of the CBI, the NUS students' union and the Centre Forum thinktank.

Team UK scores big at EuroSkills 2014

Apprentices and learners from the UK have triumphed after showcasing their skills against the best in Europe. Team UK brought home three gold medals and six silvers from EuroSkills 2014 in Lille, France. The event, which takes place every two years, is the largest of its kind in Europe, pitting more than 400 young people against each other in a series of competitions in disciplines ranging from hairdressing to plastering. Skills minister Nick Boles said the team had demonstrated that the UK had world-class ability when it came to skills: "Team UK are ambassadors for our country and demonstrate how high quality apprenticeships can lead to successful careers."

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