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Sector news, 27 April - 3 May 2014

Careers advice report shows ‘how little’ a quality service would cost FE Week, 2 May 2014

A new report which puts an annual cost on a “benchmarked” careers guidance provision in schools has been welcomed by the Association of Colleges (AoC) as showing “how little” the service would hit taxpayers. In the report, PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP presents the findings of a costing exercise, and reveals providing a careers service which reaches eight benchmarks set out by report commissioners the Gatsby Foundation could be as low as £38,472 a-year for some schools. Association of Employment and Learning Providers chief executive Stewart Segal said: “We agree that schools must have the responsibility for delivering effective careers advice but accept that schools have a vested interest. That is why it is important that guidance for schools establishes a minimum requirement to providing employers and other training organisations access to their students and parents.”

Higher apprenticeships in line for UCas applications FE Week, 2 May 2014

The University and Colleges Admissions Service (UCas) has welcomed an invitation for talks on promoting higher apprenticeships. The organisation, which already matches learners to some higher-level FE courses under the banner of UCas Progress, responded to a call from Business Secretary Vince Cable for it to cover higher apprenticeships. Helen Thorne, UCas director of policy and research, said: “We look forward to discussing higher apprenticeships with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and working together to ensure that students have access to the best possible information as they make decisions about their future education and career pathways.”

Part-time learner numbers show sharp decline FE Week, 1 May 2014

Further education leaders have called for action to stop a sharp decline in part-time higher education study after a report revealed the number of entrants fell by almost half in three years. Research conducted by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has shown that the number of part-time UK and EU undergraduate entrants fell from 259,000 in 2010/11 to 139,000 in 2013/14 — a drop of 120,000, or 46 per cent. David Hughes, chief executive of the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education, said: “The decline in part-time study is bad news indeed for the economy
and for adults who want to improve their career prospects.”

Welcome to colleges: the next generation FE Week, 1 May 2014

This article in the TES by Darren Evans looked at hopes that ‘centres of expertise’ will plug higher-level skills gaps, the difference between what education offers and what employers need. He said the focus is now on tackling the shortage of higher level vocational skills. Vince Cable has said the government believed it had the solution in a new generation of specialist national colleges. Three have already been announced, including one which deliver engineering training at the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry. Although the FE sector has welcomed the news, it urged the government not to overlook current provision or to leave colleges and other providers out of the loop.

Fears raised that FE loans scheme has turned adults off of learning TES, 25 April 2014

The National Institute for Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) has called on the government to monitor its FE loans scheme amid fears it has had a negative impact on participation. A year ago the government introduced advanced learning loans for adults over the age of 24 for a range of courses. But the latest figures show that only 65,000 loans have been received against a government target of 85,000. Dr Fiona Aldridge, Niace assistant director for development and research, called for an ongoing impact assessment of the policy to be commissioned, and said it was important to understand who was learning, what they were learning, where, and who was missing out.