Stick to priorities

3rd July 2009 at 01:00

There is certainly a prospect of redundancies at colleges in the near future, and you are right to identify "politics at play" ("Battening down the hatches may not be enough", May 29). It is not the politics of industrial relations, but politics with a capital P - short-term government shifts in priorities so sharp that responsive providers have been caught by an about-face that leaves successful Train to Gain teams vulnerable to losing their jobs and disappointing newly engaged employers. It is a point Lord Mandelson's new Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Bis) should recognise and better understand than the previous department involved with post-19 education and training.

Further education rises successfully to the challenges ministers throw at it; even they acknowledge this. But this switching of priorities is not the way to create a world-class economy. Perhaps Bis will be more business-centric: no shifts in policy that threaten to disengage employers from the skills agenda and disrupt the strengthening relationships with colleges. Without this, credibility in investing in skills diminishes, from the employers' viewpoint and colleges'.

Tony Lau-Walker, Chair, Windsor Group of Further Education Colleges.

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