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Further afield

Employer training spend stays constant despite slump

Employers have maintained their spending on training despite the recession, according to research from London University's Institute of Education. While some had cut spending drastically, overall investment in training fell only slightly, the researchers found in interviews with 52 employers and studies of statistics from sources ranging from the Labour Force Survey to employers organisation the CBI. Employers told the researchers that the need to make redundancies made it even more important that workers had multiple skills, so that the business would not be damaged by the loss of key staff.

Merger consultations in bid to mitigate cuts

Barnet College and Southgate College in north London are consulting over plans to merge to reduce the impact of millions of pounds in budget cuts, while in the south-east of the city, Orpington College plans to merge with Bromley. Consultations on the plans will run until 3 March for the proposed Barnet and Southgate College and until 4 March for Bromley College. Bromley and Orpington have been considering merger for three years and said the case was even more compelling since the announcement of cuts to FE, while Barnet and Southgate said theirs was a strategic merger intended to increase quality, but admitted it was "unsustainable" for them to continue as they are.

Taking a bow for theatre costume achievement

Coleg Morgannwg in south Wales has won the President's Award from the Association of Colleges (AoC) for its "challenging and unconventional" foundation degree in theatrical costume construction. It was chosen by the president of the AoC's charitable trust, Lord Willis of Knaresborough, over 17 other Beacon Award winners. He said: "Coleg Morgannwg's course in costume construction for theatre and screen is hugely ambitious, creative, challenging and unconventional - all the qualities we increasingly need to see from the sector. To challenge students to compete in this highly competitive marketplace and to succeed through securing real briefs demonstrates a college stepping up a level and demonstrating that there are simply no glass ceilings for the FE sector."

Big hitters re-state commitment to apprenticeships

Large employers from Microsoft to McDonald's affirmed their commitment to on-the-job training for Apprenticeship Week. Microsoft announced it intends to recruit 1,000 apprentices in London over the next three years, while McDonald's revealed that more than 3,000 apprentices had now qualified through its scheme, with nearly 8,000 more currently studying. London mayor Boris Johnson (pictured) welcomed the Microsoft announcement, bringing him closer to his aim of an extra 20,000 apprenticeships for the capital. He said: "Apprenticeships can make all the difference to an eager jobseeker's prospects. London's businesses need to redouble their efforts to save what could otherwise become a wasted generation."

Plymouth campus's pound;120m rebuild now a pound;4m revamp

City College Plymouth has unveiled a five-year plan to renovate its campus at a cost of pound;4 million. With an earlier pound;120 million rebuild falling victim to the college capital funding crisis, the college is now proceeding with a grant of just pound;1 million from the Skills Funding Agency. It aims to consolidate all its provision on to its main campus in the Devonport area of the city, allowing it to dispose of its other site, the Goschen Centre. The first phase is intended to involve recladding the campus's tower block, improving facilities in the training kitchens and partly refurbishing the centre for construction.

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