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Further afield

Full steam ahead for Welsh FE colleges merger

Two Welsh FE colleges are pressing ahead with their plans to merge next year. The boards of Coleg Llandrillo Cymru and Coleg Menai have formally agreed to enter a consultation phase. The final decision will be taken in December with a view, subject to Welsh Government approval, of completing the merger by April 2012. The merged college would be one of the largest in the UK, with a turnover of more than pound;70 million and 2,000 staff spread across 14 campuses. The merged college would offer HE and FE qualifications in both English and Welsh. Coleg Llandrillo Cymru chairman John Bellis said: "The merger of two successful colleges completes the strategic picture for central and north-west Wales for many years to come."

SSCs get pound;5 million to meet employers' skills needs

More than pound;5 million is being handed out to sector skills councils (SSCs) to generate more investment in skills training by employers. Among the winning projects to receive cash from the Employer Investment Fund, run by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), is a scheme to develop a skills passport for health workers, and a feasibility study to explore the potential of creating a logistics guild. Skills minister John Hayes said: "These projects will enable SSCs to facilitate co-ordinated, employer-led action to identify and address future skills gaps, helping businesses deliver long-term prosperity and higher productivity." UKCES chairman Charlie Mayfield said: "Over the coming months we will be working with each of the successful SSC teams to ensure each investment does contribute to achieving real impact in meeting the skills needs of employers."

Apprenticeship programmes saved from cuts

Proposed funding cuts for apprenticeship programmes have been shelved, following intensive lobbying by the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP). The Skills Funding Agency (SFA) had considered making what AELP described as "significant" changes for funding rates for some apprenticeship programmes, with just a month's notice. AELP warned the proposals would have had a "massive and negative impact on the provider infrastructure which had already set its budgets in place for the imminent trading year". An SFA guidance note said: "We believe this to be the right decision to give confidence throughout the sector in the continued delivery of apprenticeship frameworks."

Norton College gets a touch of Tinseltown

A Hollywood actor has swapped California for South Yorkshire as filming for his latest work got under way in Sheffield. David Oyelowo, who stars in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, released next month, appears in the short film Rahab, based on the Biblical story of Jericho. Filming of Rahab at Norton College, the Magna Science Adventure Centre in Rotherham and on location in the Peak District, started this week. Principal Andrew Cropley said: "We are fortunate having the facilities to accommodate the filming in the college television studio and theatre, and are delighted that this opportunity is enhancing the experience of our students by involving them in the production process, from playing extras to helping support the film crew."

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