4th June 2010 at 01:00
Easy as one, two, pre- amp; Animal magnetism

Easy as one, two, pre-

FErret dearly wants to believe that the creation of policy in Whitehall doesn't resemble the satirical world of The Thick Of It. But he has his worries.

In the TV show, government policy is dreamt up on the hoof with one part flippancy to two parts half-arsedness. As one exchange goes: "What we need is something that the public want, is incredibly popular and is free ."

"Return of capital punishment?"

Something similar appeared to be going on at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, where one of FErret's spies overheard a bureaucracy of officials practising their brainstorming before entering a meeting.

The theme? How to provide enough apprenticeship places to meet the new Government's demands when businesses were refusing to take on new staff - a problem solved in the past by college-based pre-apprenticeships.

"We could try pre-pre-pre-apprenticeships," one tentatively suggested, in the manner of one who hopes not to be taken seriously but fears he might be.

So if the minister gets stuck for an eye-catching initiative one day, remember you heard it here first.

Animal magnetism

Congratulations to Bishop Burton College in Yorkshire, which has welcomed a litter of new arrivals: baby meerkats.

Last week, the youngsters were able to take their first steps outside, five weeks after being born. Their parents belong to a family of meerkats introduced to the land-based college's new outdoor animal handling centre earlier this year.

It also hosts wallabies, alpaca and rheas - large, flightless, ostrich- like birds - and is intended to give students new challenges in looking after more exotic animals, although if the meerkats keep up this pace, soon there won't be room for anyone else.

Rumours that confused business studies students keep wandering towards the enclosure when they're supposed to be studying markets are without foundation, FErret is assured.

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