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Skills service announces wind-down to closure

The Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) this week announced that it will begin shutting down its courses and training conferences from March. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills confirmed that its funding would cease in August next year, prompting LSIS to say that it had "no alternative but to begin a managed exit". "It is our aim to provide the planned high-quality support and services we have already committed to at least until the end of this financial year, and in some cases through to the end of the academic year," said chief executive Rob Wye. "It is vital that those who are committed to improvement activities over this period are not impeded in achieving their goals." He added that he is "exploring alternative destinations for our programmes and activities".

DfE's 14 apprentices not enough, says Lord Adonis

Lord Adonis of Camden Town hit out at the Department for Education for failing to recruit its own apprentices, as he opened new facilities at Exeter College. At the unveiling of a new #163;8.5 million technology centre, the former schools minister said a strong apprentice route is essential to solving the problem of youth unemployment. "It is not acceptable that, out of a headquarters staff of several thousand, there are only 14 apprentices with only three under the age of 21," he said about the Department, which is responsible for apprentices under the age of 18. "We need to change and we need all our major employers to take part," he added. Lord Adonis praised colleges such as Exeter for offering partnerships with employers that make it easier to create suitable apprenticeships. He described the new technology centre as a meeting point for employers and educators, and part of a "national move to completely re-engage in a new way employers as a whole with the education system and the youth of the country".

Doors of Westminster opened to young

Labour leader Ed Miliband and FE minister Matthew Hancock are the latest MPs to hire an apprentice through the Parliamentary Academy, a school for apprentices inside Westminster. The academy, which offers 16- to 24-year-olds without a degree the chance to gain entry-level roles in Parliament, was established by youth employment charity New Deal of the Mind with Harlow MP Robert Halfon. Apprentices take up a paid placement for a year while studying for an NVQ in business administration. "With such a large number of young people struggling to find work, the scheme offers an excellent opportunity for people from a wide range of backgrounds to work in politics," Mr Miliband said. Mr Hancock said: "I think it is an excellent way to give someone who is passionate about politics the opportunity to earn a fair wage, doing a real job in Parliament, while studying for a great qualification."

Queen's award honours black leadership scheme

The Black Leadership Initiative has been named as one of the winners of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Volunteering Award 2012, for its work training hundreds of mentors and helping to increase the number of black college principals from four to 16 since it was founded 10 years ago. Set up as the training arm of the Network for Black Professionals to address the under-representation of black and minority ethnic staff in senior college positions, it has since expanded to support schools and universities. "It is a tribute to the dedicated and committed mentors who give their time so generously, the staff team who work tirelessly to deliver the programmes and our very supportive board members," said Rajinder Mann, director of the initiative. She said it has also extended its work to training ex-offenders as mentors, to help others turn their lives around and reduce reoffending.

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