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Jobs all wrapped up

Further evidence that under-18s are still struggling to find apprenticeships, despite the Government trumpeting its investment, arrives from Banbury.

There, the Elsmore family is going to extreme lengths to find an apprenticeship for 16-year-old Bradley, who wants to be an electrician. A hard-worker, he has sent out more than 100 letters in the hunt to find an employer.

Now his dad, Martyn, has hit upon an incentive no sparky could resist: free fish and chips once a week at Fairway Fish Bar, which he owns and runs. "I'm in business myself and everyone is trying to keep the overheads down. But without someone giving him a chance, he's snookered," Martyn told his local paper.

FErret applauds this bold move and looks forward to a roll-out of the national programme of chips-for-apprenticeships in a future white paper.

Sabbatical slip-up

As the idea of listening to students and taking their views into account slowly takes hold in FE, some colleges are struggling to adapt.

Take Bishop Burton College in Yorkshire, which with no doubt the best of intentions has set aside pound;11,000 to pay the salary of a sabbatical officer to run its student association.

But then it advertises the post to external candidates as "an ideal stepping stone for postgraduates entering employment". It is, of course, the entire point of sabbaticals that they are held by students taking a break from their studies to focus on organising and representing their peers.

Even through the medium of Twitter, it was possible to tell that former vice-president for FE at the NUS Shane Chowen, who spotted the ad, was banging his head against a desk in despair: "You've GOT to be kidding," he said.

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