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No flower power

FErret is not normally one for complaining about an excess of sarcasm directed against public figures.

But something about the flak FE minister John Hayes got for suggesting unemployed people take up courses in flower arranging and dancing ("Lost your job? Try flower arranging, says skills minister John Hayes", the Daily Mail) seemed out of place.

FErret recalls not too long ago when there was such a thing as adult education that quite a lot of energy was expended telling ministers that even the most unexpected courses can transform people's outlook and give them the confidence to restart their careers.

That was true then, and it's true now. Of course, it's a bit harder to take from a Government that is set to put thousands of public sector workers on the dole. But let's not sneer at the flower arrangers: each to their own.

Colleges vs schools

So the first series of Junior Apprentice has the youngsters showing that anything the adults can do, they can do better, as they made catastrophic mistakes in apparently simple business tasks, just like the grown-ups.

With the results in, it's time to look at who won: schools or colleges? Alas, it seems FE is less successful than schools at turning out attention-seeking would-be entrepreneurs.

Emma Walker, a student at South Cheshire College, went the furthest before crashing out just before the final, contested by four students from schools. Sir Alan Sugar, who once undiplomatically branded colleges as a place for "dummkopfs", has clearly not softened in his attitude.

But Marcel Gashi, a student at Regent College in Leicester, may outdo them all in business and self-promotion. The 18-year-old has attracted media attention after claiming to have won pound;6.8 million of venture capital for his new internet search engine.

Impressive: but FErret wonders if it will work on his Amstrad E-mailer?

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