9th July 2010 at 01:00

Untimely one-liner

As further education staff well know, as they graft away to mould Britain's youth into something approaching a workforce, getting a job isn't just about knowing your stuff - you need employability skills such as punctuality.

It's a point that FE minister John Hayes might now struggle to make after he failed to turn up to Commons debate on apprenticeships in good time, causing it to be cancelled.

Kevin Brennan, the shadow FE minister who has been cultivating a taste for the one-liner in opposition, asked if Mr Hayes could buy an alarm clock on expenses. (It would be somewhat cheaper than the pricey Apple Mac Mr Brennan claimed for, at least.)

Perhaps Mr Hayes feels his commitment to apprenticeships is so perfect that it needs no debating, but FErret is nonetheless surprised: the minister does not seem to be the sort to turn down an opportunity to talk.

The Commons speaker, John Bercow, hinted as much when he gave the minister the opportunity to apologise: "I know he will be very happy to comment." "Mr Speaker, that was literally irresistible," he replied.

Assimilation stations

The Young People's Learning Agency (known as It's-fun-to-stay-at-the-YPLA, for short) seems to have been thoroughly assimilated by the Borg of the Department for Education.

So much so that they may have forgotten colleges even exist. In a bulletin sent out to keep everyone posted about whatever the hell it does, the agency said it was intended for local authorities, academy principals and independent specialist providers.

Now FErret understands that academies' independence is the hot new thing, but colleges have been there, done that, and acquired suitably tacky souvenirs. If the YPLA ("there's a place you can go, young men, when you're short on your dough") wants to absorb colleges into the collective, it may find their resistance far from futile.

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