Skip to main content

Sector news, January 2014

Funding changes risk 80% drop in apprenticeship numbers Guardian, 7 January 2014

Shifting funding to employers will cause a rapid decline in the number of people taking up apprenticeships, says an expert. The Chancellor announced the change in his autumn statement. Currently, training providers work with employers to identify suitable apprenticeship candidates and then take manage the claiming of funding and the responsibility for the programme’s quality. In the future employers will also need to make a significant cash contribution to apprentices’ external training costs. In an article in the Guardian, HIT Training Ltd executive chairman John Hyde wrote about the problems the change would cause for employers, including being subject to Ofsted inspections.

Further education college will train workforce needed to build High Speed 2Guardian, 14 January 2014

The first new FE college to be incorporated in more than 20 years is to be opened to service construction of the conteroversial multi-billion pound High Speed 2 railway project, and it is hoped it will lead to a renaissance in Britain’s engineering industry. The business secretary Vince Cable said it would help to train a new generation of British engineers. The site of the future college is still being planned.

Older ‘apprenticeships’ warning for Skills Minister Matthew HancockFE Week, 6 January 2014

Skills Minister Matthew Hancock has been warned against promoting apprenticeships for over 50s along the same lines as those for under 25s after he said the programme for older people could help the country out of recession. Tony Dolphin, senior economist for the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), said apprenticeships for older people were different to those for younger people and, as such, the programme should even be named differently. Government figures have shown 34,050 people over 50 started an apprenticeship in 2012-13, a slight fall from the previous year. Mr Dolphin said the programme should be geared towards people who need to adapt existing skills, so it is a different sort of training to that offered to young people, and should not be branded as an apprenticeship.

Huge under-delivery on 16 to 18 apprenticeshipsFE Week, 9 January 2014

More than 520 providers under-delivered on their August 2012 16-to-18 apprenticeship allocations by a total of £241.5m. FE Week did research into figures from the Education Funding Agency which found 769 colleges and independent learning providers were going to be funded with £826.9 m for the programme. But 524 providers delivered less than their initial allocation, and the funding allocation for all providers’ under-19 apprenticeships delivery has been revised down since then. Some of the largest under-performers told FE Week employers were unwilling to take on apprentices in the current economic climate.

Cash queries over maths qual FE Week, 9 January 2014

The government unveiled plans for a new level three qualification to keep young people studying maths until 18, but sector bodies have expressed concerns over funding. The Association of Colleges (AoC) and the Sixth Form Colleges Association (SFCA) welcomed the aims of government proposals published last week to introduce a “core maths” qualification targeted at the 200,000 students a year who achieve C or above at GCSE but who do not take maths A-level. But SFCA deputy chief executive James Kewin challenged the government to “match its ambition for curriculum reform with the funding required to deliver it”. Core maths it expected to be half the size of an A level, preparing students for work where a basic level of numeracy is required. The qualification technical guidance is due to be published in March, with the qualifications widely available from September 2015.

Foundation appoints ‘learner voice’ to directors board FE Week, 16 January 2014

Student leader Joe Vinson has been given a seat on the director’s board of the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) after talks to ensure top-level learner representation. Mr Vinson, vice president for FE at the National Union of Students (NUS), has taken the post despite initial ETF board plans in which learners did not feature. It is understood the post will also then be open to successive student figures.

Baker ‘delighted’ as Gove green light means UTCs hit 50 mark FE Week, 24 January 2014

The number of University Technical Colleges (UTCs) is set to hit 50 after six more of the institutions offering vocational education to 14 to 18-year-olds got the go-ahead from the Department for Education (DfE). They will be in Bolton, Peterborough, Scunthorpe and Warrington, with two in London. The colleges offer a mixture of academic study, including maths, English, science, foreign language, history and geography, alongside a technical curriculum geared towards a particular industry. They are run through a partnership between local universities, FE colleges and employers. The announcement means UTCs nationally will have the capacity to take on as many as 30,000 young people, though figures released in November showed some were running at less than 30 per cent capacity.

Prime Minister says ‘still got to get basics absolutely right’ on English and maths FE Week, 27 January 2014

Prime Minister David Cameron said skills was the major focus of his economic plan during a speech to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) policy conference today. He told delegates the economy was recovering, and that the government’s long term economic plan included policies on reducing the deficit, cutting income tax and freezing fuel duty and capping welfare and immigration. The fourth par, he said, was about making sure all young people were trained and able to take jobs a modern economy will deliver. He said maths and English were the most important vocational skills to get right.

New Ofsted FE case studies highlight quality teaching and learning FE Week, 28 January 2014

Ofsted and the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) have teamed up to share examples of good practice in vocational teaching and learning with a new set of case studies. Ten best practice examples, in which workplace-relevant skills were key, were released today having been handpicked by a panel of experts, and are freely available from the Ofsted website (link in the full story).

Shock funding cut for 1,500 adult quals FE Week, 31 January 2014

As many as 1,500 qualifications face the public funding axe as the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) looks to introduce a 15-credit threshold. The SFA has published a list of 1,477 Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) level two to four qualifications which it says will not be approved for funding in 2014/15. It had been thought that qualifications would have to be of at least 12 credits, and the change means certificates as well as lower-credited awards will be hit.

Survey shows employers can’t fill 22pc of vacancies FE Week, 31 January 2014

Nearly a quarter of vacancies in the UK have gone unfilled because of a shortage of skills, a survey of 91,000 UK employers has revealed. The Employer Skills Survey, by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), found that 22 per cent of the 655,000 vacancies in the UK remained untaken because employers could not find workers with the right skills. The gaps were in skilled trades, management, professional roles, caring, leisure and machine operating. Among the skills needed were “oral and written communication, literacy and numeracy skills” — something which seems to have worsened since the last survey in 2011. University and College Union general secretary Sally Hunt said it was vital employers commit to providing necessary training for their existing employees.