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Sector news, 29 March - 11 April 2015

AoC attacks 'failed' employer ownership scheme TES, 31 March 2015

A government scheme to give employers control of skills funding has been attacked as an “expensive, failed project” by the Association of Colleges (AoC). An evaluation of the first round of projects under the employer ownership of skills pilot says “unrealistic” targets were set. Recruitment of students to training was only just over a third of the number expected. The scheme was based on the idea that employers and employees would be more willing to invest in skills development if they were given greater “freedom and leverage” over the use of government funding. However, the report says that based on provisional performance data, the 36 round 1 projects have delivered “substantially fewer” learner starts than expected, just one-third (37 per cent) of those originally planned in the grant offer letters. It says innovation resulting from the pilot is “subtle”, and most projects did not produce “transformative, unique innovations”. It also says employers have been reluctant to use cash to fund the activity work, with financial contributions instead coming in kind, mostly in staff time. Without continued public funding, many of the projects are unlikely to continue, it adds.

'Students need different routes to English and maths success, not re-treading the same old path' TES, 9 April 2015

In this article, Charlotte Bosworth, director of skills and employment, praised the recent Education and Training Foundation report Making maths and English work for all, which recognised that the traditional learning approach leading to GCSEs can for some students present real problems often leading to disappointing results, and that functional skills are an alternative to GCSE rather than a stepping stone. She said changes to the school league table formats now means grades achieved through resits are no longer accepted, which put increased pressure on everyone to ensure the first examination attempt is the strongest. OCR believed that could be achieved by working alongside learners who may struggle in examinations in a way that plays to their strengths and does not reinforce their weaknesses.

Solving the apprenticeship perception problem, 31 March 2015

In this article, Kirstie Donnelly, UK managing director of training body City & Guilds Group looked at the recent Demos Commission on Apprenticeships research which showed everyone approved of apprenticeships, except, it seemed, when it came to their own children, where they still approved of a university education. She outlined the reasons why an apprenticeship could be a much better bet for many young people. It was important to shift the perception of vocational education using professional careers advisers too.

Labour pledges face-to-face careers guidance for every student TES, 8 April 2015

Every secondary school and college student would be given face-to-face careers guidance by a trained adviser under a Labour government. Labour leader Ed Miliband is expected to announce later today that should his party form the next government every pupil from age 11 will be given structured careers guidance in a bid to offer students a "clearer pathway" to work, training or university. Under the proposals, schools will be held to account on the quality of the careers advice and programmes they offer. According to the party, four out of five schools are now deemed to offer inadequate careers guidance, but Labour has promised to overhaul the system to provide young people with better options for later life.