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SFA warns colleges against manipulating data

The Skills Funding Agency (SFA) has vowed to take action against colleges that manipulate data. Last week TES revealed that newly appointed principal Matt Hamnett had uncovered evidence that North Hertfordshire College had deliberately withheld student information from the SFA to boost its success rate (bit.lyDataWithheld). Mr Hamnett said the senior management team had been "refreshed" and "appropriate disciplinary action" had been taken. The SFA told TES that data manipulation was not acceptable. "We expect every provider to submit delivery and performance data that gives a true reflection of its position," a spokesperson said. "Should we find any delivery and performance data issues that have not been addressed, we will take action."

Legal protection to boost apprenticeship status

The term "apprenticeship" will be enshrined in law to strengthen the reputation of the programme, it has been has announced. The government's commitment to creating 3 million apprenticeships by 2020 will also be given legal protection through the Enterprise Bill. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said the measure would enable action to be taken when the term was misused to promote low-quality courses. Skills minister Nick Boles also announced that public bodies, such as schools, hospitals, prisons and police forces, would be set targets to take on more apprentices.

Fall in students earning and learning

The number of teenagers working while they study has plummeted, according to the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES). Its report reveals that the proportion of 16- and 17-year-olds combining part-time work with education has halved in the past 20 years, from 42 per cent in 1996 to 18 per cent in 2014 (bit.lyEarningLearning). More than half (55 per cent) of those surveyed said the main reason was a "desire to concentrate on their studies". Dame Fiona Kendrick, a UKCES commissioner and chief executive of Nestl UK and Ireland, said millions of young people were "lacking the experience of the world of work that will help them find jobs".

157 Group announces new chief executive

Ian Pretty has been appointed as chief executive of the 157 Group of colleges. He will take up the post in September when Dr Lynne Sedgmore retires from her role as executive director. Mr Pretty is currently a senior vice-president at management consultancy Capgemini. Sarah Robinson, chair of the 157 Group and principal of Stoke-on-Trent College, said: "Having held a number of senior positions in both central government and the commercial sector, Ian brings a wide range of skills and experience to the group as we continue our influential work to raise the profile and importance of further education and skills."

Young people `unprepared for work', poll finds

More than 80 per cent of young people aged 18-24 believe their education has not fully prepared them for the world of work, new research claims. In a poll of 1,000 young people by the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT), 61 per cent said their education had not prepared them at all and 22 per cent said it did not prepare them completely. Only 17 per cent felt that their education had helped them to be ready for employment. A significant number were concerned about their basic skills: 16 per cent said their numeracy was not up to scratch, 12 per cent felt their literacy could be improved and 19 per cent thought their ICT skills were below par.

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