FE news at a glance

6th March 2015 at 00:00

Reports urge focus on soft skills and employability

Every school should have a trained leader to oversee careers advice, introduce employability to the curriculum and build links with further education, according to a new report. To mark National Careers Week, Teach First has launched specialist careers training for its recruits currently working in middle leadership positions. In its report Careers Education in the Classroom, the charity calls on the government's new careers and enterprise company to focus on schools in challenging circumstances and on pupils at risk of becoming Neet (not in education, employment or training). Jude Heaton, Teach First's director for higher education access and employability, said that teachers couldn't do it alone, and that long-term, systemic change was needed. Meanwhile, a separate report from the British Chambers of Commerce says that more than half of UK employers believe a lack of interpersonal skills is hindering young people's readiness for work. The BCC workforce survey finds that 57 per cent of employers cite a lack of soft skills - such as communication, resilience and team working - as the main reason that young people are unprepared for work. Employers also think young people's prospects are affected by a lack of focus on employability and enterprise in schools and colleges (53 per cent), and by a lack of careers advice (46 per cent).

Cuts could kill off further education for adults

Adult further education could be a "thing of the past" by 2020 if funding cuts continue at the current rate, the Association of Colleges has warned. Last week, the Skills Funding Agency announced that the adult skills budget for 2015-16 was being reduced by more than pound;249 million, an 11 per cent fall from 2014-15. The SFA estimates that funds available for non-apprenticeship adult skills will be reduced by almost a quarter. Martin Doel, chief executive of the AoC, said: "This could be the end of this essential education in every city, town and community in England, and the consequences will be felt by individuals and the economy for years to come."

Director of 157 Group announces retirement

Lynne Sedgmore, one of the most prominent figures in further education, is to retire after 35 years in the sector. The executive director of the 157 Group of colleges will stand down later this year. Before joining the 157 Group seven years ago, Dr Sedgmore was chief executive of the former Centre for Excellence in Leadership. Prior to that, she was principal of Guildford College, and has held teaching and leadership roles in several other colleges. She was appointed CBE in the 2004 New Year's Honours List, and earlier this year was included in the Debrett's 500 list, which recognises the UK's most influential people.

Neet numbers fall but concerns for future remain

Funding cuts to the FE and skills sector could lead to a rise in the number of young people classed as Neet, a teaching union has warned. New figures show that the number of 16- to 24-year-olds who were Neet fell by 8 per cent in the last three months of 2014 compared with the same period in 2013. But Mary Bousted, general secretary of the ATL teaching union, said: "While it is positive that the number of 16- to 24-year-old Neets has fallen, it is difficult to see how this level will be sustained given the cuts planned for the FE and skills sector. The government has already confirmed that it will not protect future education funding for young people aged 16-19."


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