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Partnerships are the way

Suddenly community groups and charities have an important part to play in implementing government policy. On social inclusion, for instance. But are they ready for such work? And does it fall to FE to fill the training gaps? Martin Whittaker reports

The Government has made it clear that it would like to fund the voluntary sector, and in some instances the Learning and Skills Council might decide to fund the voluntary sector directly.

That's not been easy through the Further Education Funding Council because you had to be a recognised institution and you had to jump through a lot of hoops.

It may be okay for some of the larger voluntary organisations to receive that funding directly to develop their own programmes, but some of the smaller ones are going to need support.

SoI think one of the key ways forward is more partnership working, where perhaps the voluntary sector might identify the training and education needs, and then in partnership with someone like Bolton College, work out how to fund and deliver it.

I would see stronger partnership working with the voluntary sector bodies, because obviously the voluntary sector covers a lot of different organisations, from national to small community organisations.

So there are opportunities to expand the work, and I think this is an area where a lot of adults - who perhaps wouldn't necessarily go into a college - might be encouraged back into learning through the relationships bet-ween a college and a voluntary group.

John Clark is director of organisational development at Bolton College

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