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Further afield

Hayes looks to the future with hi-tech skills academy

FE and skills minister John Hayes (pictured) has announced investment of pound;1.98 million in a National Skills Academy to promote growth industries of composites and biotechnology. With funding due to be matched by employers over three years, the academy will design new professional standards and training programmes to help Britain establish itself at the forefront of hi-tech industries. Mr Hayes said: "Composites and biotechnology are highly competitive sectors around the world and both are poised for substantial growth. If we want to secure that growth and investment in the UK, it's vital that we can provide a highly skilled workforce. The academy will bring Government agencies, education providers and employers together, delivering world-class training to keep Britain on the cutting edge of technological progress."

Three strikes at Richmond; parents' evening is out

Richmond upon Thames College lecturers held their third one-day strike this academic year in protest against plans which they say will lead to 20 job losses and less contact time with students. With too few staff available, the college cancelled a planned evening on Monday (24 January) for first-year parents, advising them instead to contact their child's tutor if they had any concerns about their report. The college said it was committed to ensuring all students received high-quality teaching and were able to fulfil their personal ambitions, even in uncertain times.

Homeless apprentices find success with St Mungo's

Three-quarters of homeless people on a 12-month apprenticeship run by charity St Mungo's have successfully found work. The project was set up in 2009, giving homeless people a contract at one of the charity's projects so they could gain skills, help with literacy and an NVQ in health and social care. Four months on from completion, six out of 17 participants have permanent project worker posts while seven more have part-time work. St Mungo's, which has 1,600 residents in temporary accommodation in London and the south of England, started the scheme after seeing a collapse in the number of clients in employment over more than 20 years, from 86 per cent to just 4 per cent.

Energy Skills Centre will help nuclear industry thrive

Energy secretary Chris Huhne opened Bridgwater College's pound;8 million Energy Skills Centre on Monday (24 January). The Somerset centre will offer training to meet the growing demand for science and engineering skills from employers, including the 6,000 people employed in the area's nuclear industry. It features realistic work environments for training and simulations. Mr Huhne said: "This new centre is a great place to inspire the young and deliver the skills which are absolutely crucial for a career in this industry on our doorstep in our low-carbon future."

Nottingham principal joins Information Authority

The body responsible for collecting and using data from FE colleges in England has appointed a new chairman. Geoff Hall, who will retire as principal and chief executive of New College Nottingham in July, chairs his first board meeting at the Information Authority, part of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, at the end of this month. John Perks, head of the Information Authority, said: "This is a very exciting time for us. We are looking forward to hearing more about Geoff's vision regarding the authority's future direction and focus." Mr Hall replaces previous chairman Graham Jones, who retired at the end of last year.

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