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Key skills qualifications bite the dust

After a slow and lingering process, next week will see the demise of key skills qualifications in basic literacy and numeracy. As of Monday, registration for key skills will close, with the qualifications being replaced by functional skills courses, which aim to link English, maths and ICT to everyday, practical tasks. The final cohort of key skills learners will have one year to complete the qualifications. Government studies found little evidence that key skills improved adults' chances of finding work or getting a pay rise, despite offering some personal benefits such as increased confidence.

Building apprenticeship provider falls down

About 90 apprentices have been told to find new courses after their provider, Southampton-based Apprenticeship Training Limited, went into liquidation. The news comes just four months after the company opened a pound;500,000 college in a converted school building to help unemployed young people get into the building services industry. The Skills Funding Agency and the National Apprenticeship Service have pledged to ensure "learners are supported and transferred, where possible, to other local providers and to ensure public funds are protected". It is not clear how many jobs will be lost.

Bodies seek `common accord' on subcontracting

Organisations serving the FE sector have joined forces to come up with common principles for subcontracting arrangements. Supply chains have grown in the sector since the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) announced it would only deal directly with contracts worth at least pound;500,000, forcing smaller providers to band together. Representatives from the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, the Association of Colleges, the SFA and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills met to discuss plans for a "common accord". This will include "overarching principles of best practice for managing supply chains in the skills sector". The group will report to the SFA's external advisory group on subcontracting.

Thumbs up for health and well-being

Eighteen FE providers, including colleges and prisons, have been recognised for their efforts to promote the health and well-being of learners and staff. Among the institutions to receive Healthy FE and Skills Recognition status are Hertfordshire Adult and Family Learning Service, Shropshire Council and HMP Birmingham. In total, 77 institutions have been recognised under the scheme, supported by the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) and the Skills Funding Agency, since it started in 2009. "Providers have shown a real enthusiasm for improving the health of their learners and staff," said Margaret Adjaye, LSIS's head of quality and equalities.

Training take-up higher among working adults

Adults in work are more than twice as likely to engage in study or training as unemployed people, according to adult learning body Niace's annual participation survey. The report found that 44 per cent of people in work were in training, compared with 21 per cent of those outside the workforce. However, the number of people who have participated in learning over the past three years was just 38 per cent, down from 42 per cent two years ago. Niace chief executive David Hughes said: "With only one in five people outside the workforce learning, many of the people who could most benefit are missing out."

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