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Traineeships will help to make young work-ready

Skills minister Matthew Hancock has launched a consultation on the creation of new traineeship qualifications, which could be introduced by September to help students who are not qualified for an apprenticeship to enter work or job training. The qualification for 16- to 24-year-olds, expected to last at least six months, would include work-readiness training such as CV writing and interview training, English and maths for those without good GCSEs and work experience. Professor Alison Wolf welcomed the attempt to address the problems of young people entering the labour market, which she identified in her review of vocational education in 2011. "Long-term changes in the labour market have been very hard on young people. It is increasingly difficult for them to gain the work experience and workplace skills that help them move into permanent employment," she said.

Teacher training extended in response to criticism

The Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) has doubled the length of its proposed new FE teaching qualification, after objections from colleges, training providers and teacher training institutions. The level 5 diploma in education and training, which is set to replace the diploma to teach in the lifelong learning sector, will now be worth 120 credits, instead of 60, leaving it on a par with schoolteachers' PGCEs. Critics had argued that the proposed shorter course would not be sufficient to cover the necessary course content. James Noble Rogers, executive director of the Universities' Council for the Education of Teachers, praised LSIS for making the change. "All credit to them for listening to the sector," he said.

Will employers tune in to apprenticeship grant?

The National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) has launched a radio advertising campaign to encourage employers to take on apprentices and highlight the availability of a #163;1,500 grant to help with the cost of an extra employee. The campaign comes as the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers is extended for another year to March 2014 - the NAS said the extension was because of the "positive response from employers". Businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees can now apply for the grant up to 10 times, whereas previously it was available only to employers who had not recently employed an apprentice. It is the second time eligibility for the scheme has been expanded: at launch, it was restricted to small businesses with fewer than 250 staff.

College staff may strike over union rep sacking

Lecturers at Halesowen College are considering a strike ballot after the University and College Union branch secretary was sacked before Christmas. The union said that more than 100 members protested outside the West Midlands college this week. Maths lecturer and union representative David Muritu was dismissed on 20 December, with the college claiming his results were substandard. Three other maths teachers face disciplinary action. The union rejects the claim, and says the sacking was motivated by a desire to remove an activist who challenged the principal at a time when staff and management are at odds over a range of issues, such as the provision of specialist cover for staff who are on long-term sick leave. Principal Keith Bate has "completely refuted" any suggestion of improper conduct by the college.

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