FE news at a glance

13th March 2015 at 00:00

Unemployment link `damages' apprenticeships

An "excessive" focus on apprenticeships as a way of tackling youth unemployment could be damaging their status, a group of MPs warned this week. In a report (bit.lyEduComReport) published to mark National Apprenticeship Week, the cross-party Commons Education Select Committee says not enough young people are involved in work-based learning, despite recent improvements. "Excessive emphasis on apprenticeships as a means to combat youth unemployment risks reinforcing the myth that apprenticeships are a second-class option and damages the apprenticeship brand," the report warns. Committee chair Graham Stuart said that apprenticeships should not be seen or presented as a second-class option. The report urges the government to improve the quality of provision while getting more employers to commit to providing work-based learning opportunities. It makes 23 recommendations to policymakers, including emphasising the "urgent" need to review incentives for schools to provide good-quality careers advice. Meanwhile, a separate survey by thinktank Demos finds that more than nine out of 10 parents (92 per cent) think apprenticeships are a good option for young people - but only a third (32 per cent) think they offer the best route for their own child . The poll also reveals that just 19 per cent of parents have been spoken to by their child's school about apprenticeships, compared with 45 per cent who have been given information about universities.

Prospects key to maths and English engagement

Young people's attitudes to GCSE maths and English change once they realise how important the subjects are to their future job and education prospects, research suggests. The study undertaken by adult education body Niace and funded by the Education and Training Foundation, also shows that learners are more likely to get better grades if they see how relevant the qualifications are to their everyday lives, enjoy learning and have good support. Joyce Black, assistant director of development and research at Niace, said: "Maths and English GCSEs are vital for learners to take a step towards further education or work. Our research demonstrates the importance of high-quality teaching, access to timely support and peers in supporting learners to engage with these qualifications."

BBC digital skills traineeship will be biggest ever

Up to 5,000 unemployed young people will be given the chance to boost their digital skills and get a foot on the career ladder with a new traineeship from the BBC. The corporation has joined with the Department for Work and Pensions and the Skills Funding Agency to create the largest traineeship of its kind as part of its Make it Digital initiative, which was launched this week. Young people on the nine-week programme will learn basic digital skills, such as creating simple websites and short videos for the web, as well as boosting their employability skills and going on a work placement.

FE reforms have had `profound effect', report finds

Changes in further education policy and funding have had a "profound effect" on college governance over the past four years, according to a new report. A government-led review says most governing bodies have responded "positively" to changes introduced since 2010. Policies designed to drive up standards, coupled with cuts in public funding, have led strong colleges towards a culture of "institutional responsibility", the report argues. "These changes have had a profound effect on governance, with clerks reporting the appointment of many governors new to their role and to the FE sector," it adds.


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