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Thinktank calls for new approach to Stem

A new generation of colleges is needed to tackle the chronic mismatch between further education courses and the needs of industry, a report by an independent thinktank has said. The New Economics Foundation (NEF) consulted more than 100 companies on the state of Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) education in the UK and found that most felt it was inadequate and failing to keep up with technological advances. According to NEF chief executive Professor Sa'ad Medhat, colleges are stuck in a silo mentality at odds with the multidisciplinary skills required in the modern marketplace. The report calls for a new approach to Stem teaching, creating regional polytechnics that would offer vocational education to students aged 14-plus, as well as acting as research and development hubs for local firms.

Give us more work experience, young people say

Young people want more work experience opportunities to show employers what they can do, according to a survey. An ICM poll of more than 1,000 people aged 14-24 shows that 65 per cent want more employers to offer work experience, while 68 per cent believe it is hard for them to get a job without it. The National Apprenticeship Service said that traineeships, the government's flagship programme to help young people into work, were one way for employers to help as they offered the work experience, training and maths and English skills needed to move on to an apprenticeship or job.

Blazing a trail with new apprenticeships

The UK government's so-called "trailblazer" employers are to develop a new range of apprenticeships. The first phase of trailblazer sectors includes energy and utilities, digital industries, financial services, life sciences and industrial sciences. Businesses from each sector have worked together to produce employer-led standards for key apprenticeship roles in their industry, which will be introduced from September. Now the firms are working on standards for further occupations including workplace pensions, aerospace machinists, IT practitioners, laboratory and healthcare sciences, and investment operations.

More young people in education or training

New figures show that more than 80 per cent of 16- to 18-year-olds in England were in education or work-based learning at the end of 2013. The exact figure - 81.2 per cent - is 2 percentage points higher than at the end of 2012 and is the highest since consistent records began in 1994. The proportion of 16- to 18-year-olds not in education, employment or training (Neet) has fallen by 1.6 percentage points, from 9.2 per cent in 2012 to 7.6 per cent in 2013 - the lowest figure since records began.

Education for single parents could boost economy

Supporting single parents to get an FE qualification could lift thousands of families out of poverty and boost the economy by up to pound;670 million, a new report claims. Gingerbread, a charity that supports single parents, says that access to FE would "open the door" to future higher-paid employment for single parents, who are often deterred by the conditions attached to benefits and the recent introduction of learning loans to fund adult courses. The charity is calling for the government to provide funding to help unemployed single parents gain their first level 3 qualification - equivalent to an A-level.

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