DAVID Blunkett has struck riches for colleges for the third year running. With pound;600 million, possibly more, from the Chancellor's warchest, he can promise big things yet again (page 2 and FE Focus page 1). The shopping list is endless: better pay, improved training for teachers and managers, cash for the long-neglected Youth Service. There are still neglected buildings, rural areas with precious little transport, and single mothers with no childcare help.
But the Education Secretary should put pay and training top of the list. The TUC says FE is now the most casualised profession in Britain. A fifth of lecturers have no recognised teaching qualifications. Pay rates are appalling compared with school teachers' rates. Mr Blunkett talks of superteachers on pound;41,000; superlecturers will be lucky to reach pound;28,000. He has put in place the building blocks for professional training. But the flight from colleges (4,300 full-time-equivalent lecturers this year) will not stop without better pay. The employers and unions are as one on this. Why? Because they know a well-trained, well-paid, profession is needed to deliver on all the other targets.