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News at a glance

Colossal college merger is on the cards

Deeside and Yale colleges are looking to merge in a move that would create one of the UK's largest FE institutions. The Welsh colleges, which serve Flintshire, Denbighshire and Wrexham, insist that they would retain their separate local identities after the merger, which is expected to be completed by August 2013. Carole O'Toole, chair of the Yale College governing body, said: "It will build on the highly successful histories and proud reputations of both colleges, which are renowned in the sector for their excellent standards and results."

Gem of a review may help smaller businesses

Social entrepreneur and jeweller Jason Holt will head an employer-led review looking at what can be done to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) take on apprentices. Mr Holt will talk to stakeholders about a number of issues, including improving the marketing of the apprenticeships programme and how to cut red tape to further speed up and simplify the recruiting process. FE minister John Hayes said: "I want to ensure that small businesses can enjoy the multitude of benefits that apprentices can offer a company - including improved productivity and the chance to build a better-skilled and dedicated workforce. This review will play a vital role in achieving that aim."

College scores a hat-trick of awards for Stem work

A Northern Irish college scooped a hat-trick of trophies at the Association of Colleges (AoC) Beacon Awards. Among the accolades won by South West College was the coveted president's award for a scheme that aims to inspire pupils towards further study and careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem). Lord Willis of Knaresborough, president of the AoC Charitable Trust, said: "The South West College Stem Centre project encapsulates all that is good about an FE college seizing the moment and recognising the huge employment and career opportunities there are in Stem-related industries." All of the Beacon Award-winning colleges gathered in Westminster to receive their awards from FE minister John Hayes.

Put your skills on show in Birmingham

The first annual WorldSkills UK contest will take place at Birmingham's National Exhibition Centre on 15-17 November, it has been announced. It will become a focal point for national skills contests, as well as showcasing different activities in a similar way to last year's international WorldSkills contest, which was held in London. Winners will then have the chance to go on and compete in the next international competition in Leipzig in 2013. More than 200,000 people attended October's WorldSkills contest, in which the UK finished fifth overall.

Apprenticeship debate comes to the steel city

A group of MPs conducting an inquiry into apprenticeships will visit Sheffield next month. The Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee arrives in Sheffield on 5 March to hold formal oral evidence sessions with organisations and local employers that promote or offer apprenticeships, as well as people currently enrolled on apprenticeship schemes. Committee chairman Adrian Bailey said: "The committee feels it is vital that apprenticeships are structured in such a way so as to maximise their potential and to provide young people in the UK with requisite skills for future success. Sheffield is home to a number of significant organisations and employers offering innovative and meaningful apprenticeship schemes."

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