AoC applauds college-employer partnerships
Further education colleges work closely with hundreds of employers to boost skills and employability, and are keen to build links with even more, according to the Association of Colleges (AoC). In a publication due to be released next week, the AoC highlights how colleges are successfully working with many types of businesses to design and deliver a huge range of qualifications. The government wants to create 3 million apprenticeships in the next five years, but the AoC warns against forgetting about other types of qualification that could contribute to narrowing the skills gap. The document says: "Some of Britain's most respected companies want their staff to have appropriate skills and work with colleges to make this happen.through designing qualifications specifically for the employer and through businesses working with colleges to inspire students." Gill Clipson, deputy chief executive of the AoC, told TES: "Colleges understand the challenges that employers have in terms of finding appropriately qualified and skilled individuals to go into their workforces, and they are essential to meeting that need. We want to encourage more employers to think about their local college as being a natural place to go to and to work with." The document will be launched at the House of Commons on Monday.
Mass cuts protest planned in Westminster
Hundreds of FE college staff and students are expected to lobby Parliament on Tuesday in a protest organised by the University and College Union. Demonstrators will ask newly elected MPs to oppose the government's 24 per cent funding cuts to adult education and commit to financing lifelong learning. More than 40,000 people have signed an online petition against the cuts. College principals, MPs and representatives from other sector bodies, including the ATL teaching union and the NUS students' union, are expected to speak at the event.
Look to Europe on Neets, academic urges
Countries should adopt a more "Continental" approach to tackling the problem of young people who are Neet (not in employment, education or training), according to an academic. Speaking at a Unicef conference on Neets in Bulgaria, Robin Simmons, professor of education at the University of Huddersfield, said other nations had a better record than the UK in dealing with the issue. "The UK approach compares unfavourably with that of other northern European nations, and youth employment in Britain is scarcer and more poorly paid than in countries such as Germany and the Netherlands," he said. These countries had a larger manufacturing industry and gave vocational training higher status, he added.
High praise from India's high commissioner
India's high commissioner to the UK has said that his country could learn lessons from FE colleges in England about how employers and education might work more closely together. Ranjan Mathai toured the engineering and construction facilities at Vision West Nottinghamshire College last week, at the invitation of principal Dame Asha Khemka, who chairs the Association of Colleges India. Mr Mathai said: "These were really impressive places and the quality of the work is excellent. It's great to see close relations with businesses who help to ensure that the course content and the work undertaken is constantly updated to meet employers' needs." India aims to train more than 500 million people in vocational skills by 2022.