15th April 2016 at 00:00
Over-egging it at Easter

You must be yolking

FErret is starting to get the impression that he’s being trolled by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. No matter how many times he raises an eyebrow at the barrage of chirpy pro-apprenticeship press releases emanating from 1 Victoria Street, they seem to keep on coming.

But one sneaked out over Easter raised the bar to a whole new level. The cringe-inducing headline “The apprentices who make Easter” offered the merest hint of the horror that was to follow.

The release rehashed the news that 30,000 new apprenticeships were pledged during the course of National Apprenticeship Week, before slipping on a bonnet and getting all Eastery.

“An apprenticeship really can take you anywhere,” it explained. “So whether you’re learning to nurse baby lambs and chicks or getting stuck in on a busy manufacturing line making the nation’s Easter eggs, there’s an apprenticeship out there for everyone.”

Having resisted the temptation to gouge out his own eyes, FErret scrolled down to see pictures of two enthusiastic apprentices. And can you guess what they were asked to pose for a picture with, children?

OK, here’s a clue: one was pictured cuddling a newborn lamb (ahhh). But what about the other? A chick? An Easter egg? A giant cross?

Nearly: a cute little bunny rabbit. Bless.

But at least the somewhat inane messaging hammers home a serious point about the talents of apprentices. These are young people working hard and trying to develop their skills, who deserve every opportunity they can get.

Getting a few in to run the PR campaign promoting apprenticeships might be a good start.

Oh Lords…

It’s a rare treat when politicians acknowledge the importance of the FE sector and try to raise awareness of it.

So FErret was delighted by much of what the report by the House of Lords social mobility committee, published last week, had to say.

But, at the risk of being picky, there were a couple of howling errors in there. First was a bizarre graphic the committee shared on social media (see picture, inset), which depicted a simple pathway from A levels through to university and (seemingly inevitably) into employment on one side, and a labyrinthine maze of acronyms on the other (shorthand for the mess that it clearly reckons non-A-level provision amounts to).

“For every one AS or A-level course available there are eight level 3 vocational courses,” it states, without offering any semblance of context or explanation.

Twitter users were quick to point out that it failed to mention the small matter of apprenticeships and traineeships, or the fact that a fair old number of people move between the FE and HE sectors each year.

And worse was to come in the report, which asserted, bafflingly: “Schools and sixth-form colleges only cater to students up to age 18, and further education colleges to students over 18.” Er… what? FErret can only conclude the committee has been playing Fantasy Education System with Sir Michael Wilshaw again.

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