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Sector news, 2 - 6 July 2012

Most graduate recruiters now looking for at least a 2:1 The Guardian, 4 July, 2012

More than three-quarters of graduate recruiters now use a 2:1 degree as their minimum entry requirement, a poll of 200 top employers has found. A total of 76% now use 2:1 as their threshold, up from 52% in 2004, as they go through huge volumes of applications. The survey found 2.5% of recruiters demand a first. It also discovered an average of 73 candidates chasing each vacancy, up from 30 per job before the economic downturn. Retail is the most competitive, with 150 people going after each position. Among the employers surveyed in the poll, the average graduate starting salary is expected to remain unchanged for a third consecutive year at £29,000.


Number of teenagers with Saturday jobs slumps The Guardian, 3 July, 2012

The number of teenagers with Saturday jobs has slumped over the past 15 years, making it harder for youngsters to acquire experience for their CVs, which can be a vital step towards getting full-time work, a new report warns. The proportion of teenagers combining part-time jobs with school or college has slumped from 40% in the 1990s to around 20% now, according to the UK Commission for Empkloyment and Skills (UKCES), a government agency. Figures show that 260,000 teenagers have a Saturday job compared with 435,000 in 1997. The report claims this is not just recession related, but the result of an increasing expectation that young people should stay on at school as well as a reduced number of Saturday jobs. “Recruiters place significant emphasis on experience … but young people are leaving education increasingly less experienced,” the report says.


Students say they will work for free after graduating The Guardian, 29 June, 2012

Almost all students are prepared to work unpaid or take minimum wage positions to secure a graduate job, according to a national survey. Half of university students are willing to work for free to kickstart their career, while 40% said they would take a minimum wage position, according to the research by Figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESS) have also revealed that more than 20,000 students, about one in 10, who left university last summer were out of work six months later, a figure which is double that of four years ago. Ben Lyon of Intern Aware said the new phenomenon of unpaid work was a short-sighted business practice, as it priced out hardworking young people, and was bad for businesses who lost out on talent.

Rushing loans legislation: a 'constitutional disgrace' TES, 6 July 2012

The decision to push through regulations implementing the FE loans system on the last day of Parliament this month without any debate or scrutiny has been branded a “procedural and constitutional disgrace” by MPs. Regulations for the fees and loans system will be laid before parliament on 16 July. They do not require any primary legislation so what has been described as the biggest change to adult education funding in a generation would come into force automatically if there are no objections. The change will mean thousands of pounds of debt for students aged over 24 taking A-level equivalent courses from 2013. Shadow FE minister Gordon Marsden has written to FE minister John Hayes in protest at the failure to allow any time for scrutiny before the regulations become law. A Department for Business, Innovation and Skills spokesman said the regulations were being laid in accordance with standard parliamentary practice.

Tie funding to learners' earnings, says thinktank TES, 6 July 2012

FE providers should be funded according to how much their learners go on to earn, a new report argues. The Skills Funding Agency (SFA) has already trialled outcome payments, in which a proportion of a provider's funding is dependent on learners gaining employment once they leave, but the Social Market Foundation (SMF) thinktank has proposed a radical new approach. The funding criteria for unemployed learners would be getting them into work. For those being trained on the job the SMF believes providers should be funded according to the increase in their salary as a result of their training. The SMF says this would force providers to steer learners towards relevant qualifications that would help them stand the best chance of getting a job. However colleges fear the move would lead to them being punished for factors outside their control

Girls are beating boys at their own game TES, 6 July 2012

Girls studying traditionally “male” subjects such as construction, business and engineering may still be in a minority, but new BTEC results data published yesterday by Pearson, owner of the Edexcel exam board, showed female learners are pulling away from their male peers. At level 2 girls are performing better than boys across most subjects, but in construction and the built environment 18 per cent of girls got a D*, the top grade, in 2011-12, compared with 7 per cent of boys. In engineering it was 28 per cent of girls, compared with 16 per cent of boys. At level 3, 48 per cent of female students taking the extended diploma in construction obtaining the top grade, compared with 34 per cent of male learners. Rod Bristow, president of Pearson UK, said he hoped the figures would give girls the confidence to pursue careers in business, construction and engineering. Girls still only make up 6 per cent of the cohort taking level 2 engineering courses, and 4 per cent at level 3.