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Apprenticeships receive the Clegg kiss of death

Bad news for apprenticeships, which have received the Nick Clegg seal of approval and will, therefore, inevitably be abolished by the coalition at the earliest opportunity.

The deputy prime minister displayed his famed political judgement in his choice of apprenticeship employer, however, opting to visit Morrisons' Bradford headquarters last week.

Morrisons, of course, is the employer most closely associated with Elmfield Training, which hoovered up millions of pounds of apprenticeship funding and deposited #163;3 million of them in the pocket of its chief executive, Gerard Syddall, while also buying up luxury homes with public cash.

Mr Clegg, meanwhile, is the politician who last year said: "Just as we have been quite tough on unsustainable and unaffordable things in the public sector, we now need to get tough on irresponsible behaviour of top remuneration of executives in the private sector."

With that pledge going the way of all Liberal Democrat promises, can Mr Clegg's announcement that he is a "massive believer" in apprenticeships prophesy anything but doom?

Principal wants to lead us up the garden path

In journalism, there is a genre of story known by the mock-headline: "Sugar is good for you, says sugar industry". The idea is that a source is being so transparently self- serving that they should be ignored.

The principal of Capel Manor College in London is surely not so cynical, but FErret wonders if he might not have pondered this formula before telling the Royal Horticultural Society that horticulture should be a compulsory part of the school curriculum and that all schools should be forced to employ a horticulturalist.

Doubtless his audience lapped it up like a sugary drink at a sugar industry convention. But is it really a failure as serious as our literacy and numeracy problems that "most people don't know how to grow their own food"? FErret looks forward to the principal of an arts college sounding the alarm on the crisis that we can't all paint a decent still life.

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