News at a glance
Call for employers to be at the heart of training
A report by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills calls for employers to be given more control over the design and delivery of skills training. Following the announcement that #163;250 million will be made available to businesses to commission training themselves, the commission's report, Employer Ownership of Skills, recommended that employers should be funded directly for apprenticeships and given incentives to offer work experience. "Improving the skills of Britain's working age population is critical to securing sustainable economic growth in the long term," said Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the Treasury. "We need to create a skills system that is responsive to the needs of British businesses. That is why we have reformed the skills system to make it demand-led, including through routing funding through employers."
Government pledges support for FE export market
Business secretary Vince Cable has promised greater support for colleges to export their education and training to new markets, such as China and India. In a speech to the British Council, he said FE was worth #163;1.1 billion a year in exports, which includes foreign students studying in the UK, compared with #163;7.9 billion in higher education. He added that programmes such as the UK India Education and Research Initiative already included agreements to improve skills and the UK was working with China to develop apprenticeships. "China, India and the like represent a vast market in which our further education colleges should compete," Mr Cable said. "Plenty of colleges already have the experience of creating bespoke training alongside employers. They're well versed in new technologies and distance learning. Accordingly, the Government is stepping up its efforts to support further education as an export, as well as higher education."
Face-to-face is best for career guidance
The new president of the Institute of Career Guidance, Sarah Finnegan-Dehn, has attacked the withdrawal of careers advice for young people in England and the reliance on help over the phone or on the web. "Youth unemployment is increasing and the choices young people have to make are becoming even more complex," she said. "Websites are useful for providing information and they can stimulate people into action about their future career. But they cannot replace the person-to-person relationship. You may refer to NHS Direct for information on health, but would you accept a consultation with a doctor over the web?" She set out four priorities for the institute: to ensure advice is given by impartial, trained staff; to provide choices to help people into work; to promote the importance of investing in careers guidance; and to ensure that young people who are out of education or training are not overlooked.
A report last week, based on incorrect information supplied by the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT), stated that more than two-thirds of apprenticeships were in the north of England. In fact, the AAT acknowledges that its report should have said that young people in the North were 70 per cent more likely to take up an apprenticeship than those in the South. Apprentices in the North form 37 per cent of the total, with the remainder split more or less equally between regions in the more densely populated South and the Midlands.