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FE must be `rethought and rebuilt', experts say

Further education needs to be "rethought and rebuilt", according to a group of experts. A report from the Centre for Vocational Education Research says the ability of FE to offer high-quality technical education at higher levels has been "undermined" by successive government funding regimes. The CVER gathered a group of experts last month to share their visions of what such a system should look like. The report concludes: "FE needs to be rethought and rebuilt to provide the capacity to offer cutting-edge technicalprofessional education and training both full- and part-time to level 4 and above. This could best be achieved by rationalisation and specialisation."

Use apprenticeship levy wisely, CBI urges

Money raised from the proposed apprenticeship levy should not be used to subsidise apprenticeships for small businesses, the CBI has warned. In a new briefing paper, the organisation says employers will judge the success of the levy, announced in last month's Budget, on the quality of apprenticeships delivered and how well they meet the needs of business. The report says the levy must be "fair, proportionate and subject to proper consultation", and that getting the rate and reach right will be critical. "Small employers should remain exempt from the levy, but levy funding should not be used to cross-subsidise apprenticeships for small business," it adds.

Awareness of professional apprenticeships is low among 16-18s, survey finds

New research suggests that 80 per cent of young people know little or nothing about ICT and professional apprenticeships. The poll of more than 200 school and college students aged 16-18 was conducted by QA Apprenticeships, which provides apprenticeships in ICT and business services. The research also found that girls were four times less likely to consider a technology apprenticeship than boys. However, once informed, 74 per cent of secondary school pupils said they would consider the option as an alternative to university. The government wants to create 3 million new apprenticeships by 2020.

New AoC president to `reconnect' with colleges

The new president of the Association of Colleges has vowed to "reconnect" with the values of colleges. Writing on the AoC website, John Widdowson, principal of New College Durham, says colleges are "facing a tide of change" and the next year will be "critical". Mr Widdowson says he wants to focus on three areas: meeting with and seeking to influence policymakers; pointing out the success of colleges; and reconnecting with the values of colleges. On the last point, he writes: "At the heart of our sector is that we are there for our students. We prepare over 3 million students with valuable skills for the workplace, helping to develop their career opportunities and strengthen the local, regional and national economy. I will be working to drum this into policymakers over the next year to ensure they understand the benefits of a strong further education system." Mr Widdowson, who began his career in FE in 1988 and has held a variety of college posts across the country, took over as president of the AoC on 1 August.

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