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Sector news, 3 - 9 November 2013

College governance needs to change: how can it move into the 21st century? Guardian, November 3 2013

In this article Susan Pember, who recently led research for the Association of Colleges on a review of practices of college governing bodies, explains what needs to improve. She said governing bodies collectively manage a £3bn budget, and need to inspire their colleges to provide a service that does their students justice, and motivating them to reach their potential, and give staff, employers and local communities the confidence to invest in college services. She said the aim of the AoC review, Creating Excellence in College Governance, was to identify issues and barriers to good governance and set out the actions needed to ensure governors, senior college leaders and clerks are adequately supported. It found governing bodies were struggling to interpret what is required of them, and calls for clear policies from government and its funding agencies, and clarity about the operational framework colleges should adopt. It also asks Ofsted to benchmark and monitor college performance, and calls for the AoC, governor council and the Education and Training Foundation to help in creating a programme for development and setting up a resource library.

Vince Cable says UK economy hampered by lack of female engineers Guardian, November 4 2013

Business secretary Vince Cable has warned that Britain’s lack of female engineers is causing “enormous problems”, as a government review calls for action to address the shortage of women in the profession. In a review published on Monday as part of Tomorrow's Engineers week, the government's chief scientific adviser for business, Prof John Perkins, makes 22 recommendations to boost Britain's engineering industry. The shortage of female engineers across disciplines from computer science to chemistry is a focus of the review, with the UK having the lowest percentage of female engineering professionals in Europe, at less than 10 per cent. The review found that parents were crucial in encouraging an interest but were more likely to approve of girls having a career in the arts, medicine or teaching.

School leavers 'less for ready for work than they were in 1851', research claims Independent, November 3 2013

Young people leaving school in 1851 were better equipped with the skills to fill the most popular jobs of the time than they are today, according to research by an online learning provider. The education of the Victorian era matched the skills required to do the most popular jobs of the time, but today’s children are not given the lessons to prepare them for the most common industries, the study by Learndirect claims. It says there are still clear legacies of older, irrelevant subjects and gaps around core competencies which are essential today. Dereth Wood, Director of Learning, Policy and Strategy, said more time needed to be spent on learning problem solving skills, and creating people who can analyse information and make decisions.

Whitehead’s bonfire of the qualsFE Week, November 8 2013

Around 95 per cent of the adult vocational market’s 19,000-plus qualifications could be axed under radical proposals to “de-clutter the system,” FE Week revealed. The move was put forward by BAE Systems group managing director Nigel Whitehead in a review requested by Skills Minister Matthew Hancock and would leave just “hundreds” of qualifications. Whitehead’s report, published by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, said the current system was failing to “generate vocational qualifications that are valued widely or seen as a signal of marketable skills”. He recommended that Ofqual, the Skills Funding Agency and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills should use commission-set “design principles” as eligibility criteria for public funding of qualifications. They are aimed at promoting greater collaboration between employers, awarding organisations and training providers to make qualifications more relevant to the workplace.

Government ‘not doing enough’ over apprentice illegal wage investigations FE Week, November 8 2013

Just five per cent of complaints made over the summer about bosses paying apprentices below the National Minimum Wage (NMW) had been fully investigated by the government by late in October, according to research by FE week. Eight complaints registered July – September had been closed. Of the complaints, BIS said four apprentices were found to have been paid below the NMW, which went up 3p to £2.68 last month. They were owed £7,235 in total.

How much? University leader predicts £20,000 tuition fees for students Independent, November 8 2013

Tuition fees for British students could reach as much as £20,000, a university vice-chancellor has warned. Prof Nick Petford warned that universities will face additional economic pressures as student numbers increase, which could force them to increase home students’ fees, and he said some with “high brand value will be able to charge £17,000, £18,000 or £20,000 in the future”. The president of the National Union of Students (NUS) Toni Pearce said the suggestion showed “just how astonishingly out of touch some university vice-chancellors can be."