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Apprentice search on

Skills minister John Hayes may be talking the talk about the importance of apprenticeships, but his Conservative colleague Robert Halfon is walking the walk.

The Harlow MP was the first politician to employ an apprentice in his House of Commons office. Following the success of taking on Harlow College student Andrew Huckle last year, Mr Halfon is looking for a new recruit when Andrew leaves this month.

The gesture may go some way to repairing Mr Halfon's reputation in the education sector, after he ruffled more than a few feathers at Liverpool John Moores University when he used parliamentary privilege to accuse the HE institution of having "extensive financial links" with Colonel Gaddafi's regime, prompting the university to threaten legal action.

But providing Harlow College doesn't have any plans to open the Robert Mugabe Department of Motor Vehicle Maintenance any time soon, FErret reckons it's good news all round.

Oh brother, what bother

It may be two years since the much-loved Whitwood College in Castleford, West Yorkshire, closed its doors for the final time, but the institution has certainly left its mark on a former student.

In a feature on the drawbacks of being a triplet in the Yorkshire Evening Post, Robert Spence recalls a time when he was an apprentice at the college and was caught apparently bunking off.

"I went into work the next day and the boss came up to me and said: `Where were you yesterday?' I said, `I was in college.'

"He said: `No you weren't, I saw you in Leeds, I'm not paying you to knock about in Leeds, I'm knocking your money off.' I had to convince him I was part of triplets and he'd seen one of my brothers."

A likely story.

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