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Stop skills shortage

Irene Austin Anne McKown NATECLA South Birmingham College

The article "We failed our own people by degrees, says Ken" (FE Focus, October 27) highlighted the fact that the skills shortages in London will not necessarily be met by Londoners going to university.

Ken Livingstone told the education and skills committee that it was wrong to end automatic fee remission for English for speakers of other languages (Esol).

Given the substantial numbers of residents for whom English is not their first language, and the employment needs in the capital, the National Association of Teaching English and other Community Languages to Adults fully supports his views.

The government proposals, in their present form, are likely to exacerbate the social exclusion of some of the most deprived community groups. The Government commissioned an inquiry into Esol but has chosen to ignore the funding recommendations made by the committee.

The National Institute for Continuing Adult Education committee accepted that not all free tuition could be maintained, given the unmet demand, but its model of an entitlement up to level 1 and recommendation that asylum-seekers should be entitled to fee remission in cases where a decision had not been within eight weeks have not been taken on board.

These recommendations would go further to ensure community cohesion and integration would be achieved. NATECLA therefore urges this Government to reconsider its decision.

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