Funding for 16-19 year-olds in 2012/13 announced Nick Reinis Dec 13, 2011

More than 30,000 extra 16-19 education places will be funded next year to cope with the raising of the participation age to 17 in 2013.

The Funding Statement, released by the The Young People’s Learning Agency (YPLA) today to set out the funding available for 16-19 education and training for 2012-13, shows the government plans to fund 1,577,000 places.

This is up from the 1,543,000 learners they expect providers to have recruited in 2011/12 and it comes despite a reduction in 16-19 recruitment, as highlighted in surveys by Lsect and the Association of Colleges (AoC).

The government has also set out its capital funding for 16-19 provision, including more than £107 million available to meet maintenance and building needs of sixth form colleges and demographic pressures for new 16-19 places in schools, academies and sixth form colleges.

Paul Champion

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UKCES announces nine new providers to deliver apprenticeship frameworks Nick Summers Dec 21, 2011

The UK Commission has chosen nine new providers to deliver apprenticeship frameworks in Universal Services.

The successful collaborations, formed by more than 25 different companies, will provide the National Occupational Standards, Apprenticeships and Modern Apprenticeship frameworks, as well as qualification related products for a number of different sectors.

The new providers, listed below, will deliver apprenticeship frameworks for the next three years, starting from April 01, 2012.

* Creative and Cultural Skills and Skillset: Creative and cultural, creative media and digital.
* Energy & Utility Skills, Cogent, Improve, Proskills and SEMTA: Electricity, gas, waste, water, bioscience, nuclear and similar industries, food and drink, process manufacturing, science and engineering.
* e-skills UK: IT and tele-comms.
* Lantra, SkillsActive, HABIA, People 1st, Improve and GoSkills: Land based, sport & leisure, transport, travel & tourism, food & drink, hairdressing and health & beauty.
* Skills for Care and Development: Care.
* Skillsmart Retail, Skills for Logistics and IMI: Retail, logistics and motor.
* CITB/ConstructionSkills and Proskills: Construction, process manufacturing and building services.
* Asset Skills, SummitSkills and Skills for Security: Property & facilities management, security and building services.
* Skills for Justice, Skills for Health, Financial Skills Partnership and Skills Third Sector: Justice, health and finance and the Third Sector.

The announcement follows a contestable commissioning process which was open to Sector Skills Councils, and held between September and December 2011.

The UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) say they will be working with the Council for Administration on the pan sector products, ECITB for engineering and construction services, and LSIS for the lifelong learning sector.

Paul Champion

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Update on apprenticeship inquiry Nick Summers Dec 21, 2011

Preliminary terms of reference have been heard ahead of an MP led inquiry into apprenticeships.

The Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Select Committee expect to start the inquiry, revealed by FE Week earlier this month, in the New Year.

Adrian Bailey MP, chairman of the committee, said the inquiry will start in February and will be followed by a call for evidence which will start “fairly soon”.

Mr Bailey, speaking exclusively to FE Week, said the enquiry will address a number of issues surrounding apprenticeships, including quality, control, and employer contributions.

It comes following an announcement by skills minister John Hayes earlier this week that apprenticeships for 16 to 18-year-olds must be completed over at least 12 months, as well as strict new measures on quality.

When asked about who should be responsible for monitoring quality, Mr Bailey said: “I think we might incorporate that into Select Committee consideration.”

The call for evidence, which will be announced on the BIS Select Committee website, will enable anyone to submit written evidence for review.

Mr Bailey announced the enquiry at the ‘Real or Rebrand?’ apprenticeships debate organised by FE Week at the House of Commons in November.

Speaking at the event, Mr Bailey said: “I’m sure there are an enormous number of people in this room today who would want to submit evidence to that enquiry.

“So please look out for that and submit it, but don’t feel constrained about the committee’s timetable – I’m very happy to receive your submissions at any time on issues surrounding apprenticeships.”

Mr Bailey also attended the debate on apprenticeships held at the House of Commons last Monday, where Mr Hayes announced the minimum duration for all apprentices aged under-19.

Mr Bailey said: “The government is providing a considerable sum of money ostensibly for apprenticeships.

“A substantial proportion of that money is not providing apprenticeships as we understand them, but going to general training, which may itself be very good, but a lot of it might actually be done by a company as a whole.

“The government needs to review that, assess the financial implications of it and look to distribute some of that money in a way which I think is more effective.”

Mr Bailey said the problems surrounding apprenticeships were “highly dangerous” for the coalition government, and could potentially “blow up in their face.”

“What we need is real apprenticeships, and an adequate level of funding to ensure that they are meaningful and effective,” Mr Bailey said.

“The government should concentrate less on numbers and more on appropriateness of the course and validity.”

Paul Champion

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Dental Firm to Offer 25 Apprenticeships in the North East

A leading UK dental firm has confirmed that it will offer 25 apprenticeships in the North East over the next 18 months.

Genix Healthcare, an NHS service provider, will offer 25 apprenticeships in the North East in addition to 75 apprenticeships in the rest of the country.

Genix Healthcare has 22 practices in England and 5 in the North East. Representatives from the firm said that there was an urgent need for experienced dental nurses and they are offering training schemes for 100 dental nurses in the UK. Young nurses in the North East will be given the opportunity to train in practices in Middlesbrough, Whitley Bay, Alnwick and Skelton.

Genix Healthcare will invest around £250,000 in the training programme, which could last up to three years depending on the individual and will take them to a level 3 qualification in dental nursing.

Sian Nelson-Jones, clinical director of Genix, said that the company was aware of the difficult employment situation facing young people and it wanted to help young nurses out and give them the necessary training and support.

Paul Champion

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All 16-18 apprenticeships to last at least one year Nick Summers Dec 19, 2011

********************ITS ABOUT TIME*****************

All apprenticeships for 16 to 18 year-olds must last at least a year, Skills Minister John Hayes MP will announce in the House of Commons today.

Mr Hayes is expected to say that all new apprenticehips must take place for a minimum of 12 months from August 2012, and include a ‘rigorous’ amount of job-relevant learning and training.

The National Apprenticeship Service (NAS), among a number of new measures confirmed by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), will look at extending the new length of delivery to older learners, and take action to improve any apprenticeship frameworks failing to deliver new and relevant skills.

The NAS will also work in partnership with the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) to clampdowm on poor use of provision.

New measures include withdrawing public funding from training providers who fail to meet quality standards.

The announcement follows a rise in apprenticeships being delivered in as little as 12 weeks, offering very little training or new job prospects for young people.

(You can watch the announcement by John Hayes MP on Parliament TV from 3:30pm)

The BIS Statement reads:


On Monday Skills Minister John Hayes will be taking part in an Apprenticeship Debate. As part of this he is expected to announce tough new measures to help assure that every apprenticeship delivers world class training for learners and businesses, and that all apprenticeships for 16-18 year olds last for at least twelve months.

These measures include:

Apprenticeships must entail a rigorous period of job-relevant learning, and the practice of new skills, normally extending over at least 12 months. From August 2012, all apprenticeships for 16-18 year olds must last for at least 12 months. The National Apprenticeship Service will look at whether this requirement should extend to older apprentices, taking account they will often start from a higher base. Every apprenticeship will deliver significant new learning – and never be about the accreditation of existing knowledge and experience.

Tighter guidance for those developing apprenticeship frameworks will ensure national quality standards are always met. The National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) will take action to improve any frameworks that are not delivering relevant and challenging new skills.

NAS will work with the Skills Funding Agency to crack down on poor provision and where there is evidence public money is being over-claimed. In cases where training fails to meet required quality standards, contracts will be tightened to allow for public funding to be immediately withdrawn from training providers.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “The apprenticeships programme is a success story, with record numbers of learners starting an apprenticeship
this year.

“The measures announced today will ensure that we cut no corners on quality. All apprenticeships will be consistently delivered to a high standard, we will crack down on poor provision and ultimately withdraw funds from those providers that can not improve.”

Skills Minister John Hayes said:

“Putting apprenticeships back at the heart of our education and skills system is one of the Government’s proudest achievements, with record investment paying dividends for businesses and trainees. With more employers and more apprentices involved in the programme than ever before, we will continue to raise standards and ensure the high quality of every apprenticeship. My resolve is to ensure every penny of public money delivers high quality training, and continue to weed out failure and fraud wherever it is found to exist.”

Apprenticeships deliver strong benefits for apprentices, employers and the wider economy. Around 450,000 new apprentices started last year, and over 50,000 workplaces took on apprentices for the first time.


In today’s debate in the House of Commons John Hayes announced a number of new measures to boost the quality of apprenticeship provision. He set out new steps to assure that every apprenticeship will deliver world class training for learners and businesses, normally extending for at least twelve months. For those aged 16-18, this period will become a minimum in all cases from August 2012, as new contracts are issued.

The National Apprenticeship Service will also assess the implications of extending the above requirement to other ages. If standards are sufficiently stretching all apprenticeships will naturally extend over 12 months. This is in line with the requirement for every apprentice not already qualified to this level to receive training in English and Maths to the level of a good GCSE.

In November the Government set out its priorities for the next phase of the Apprenticeships programme, including financial incentives for smaller firms to take on their first apprentices, the creation of some 19,000 degree level apprenticeships through the Higher Apprenticeships Fund, and a new £250m fund to give employers more control over how publicly funded training is delivered. For more info see the BIS website

– Posted using BlogPress from my Amazing iPad by

Paul Champion

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Merry Christmas to all my readers

********************HAVE A WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS***********************

I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank all my readers for coming back time and time again to read my blogs.

Please come back next year where I can assure you that we will have more activity across all my blogs.

Please let all your friends know about my blogs so that they can join in all the fun.

If you would like to contribute to my blogs then please let me know.

– Posted using BlogPress from my Amazing iPad by

Paul Champion
Change the way you think

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In memory of Steve Jobs

This is a sentiment I completely and wholeheartedly agree with ! This is not only a great epitaph for one of the worlds greatest thinkers, but also an incredible piece if social comment and observation.

— Post From My Amazing Wandering iPhone

Growing your own

Before the gardeners among you get all excited about the prospect of veg tips, I’d better explain that I’m talking about managers – or senior team members or just specialists within your organisation.

Every year around this time you’ll inevitably read about issues with recruiting graduates or school leavers. Usually, there are too many chasing too few opportunities or the skills they have garnered over expensive years of study are not really suitable for those required by businesses. Apart from grumbling, what can employers do about this state of affairs?

Well, there’s always the option of attracting talent from other organisations, but often that’s expensive. What’s more, in uncertain times many of those in work are preferring to stay where they are rather than take a potentially risky move to a new role in a new organisation.
This is where growing your own comes in. Recruiting those straight from school, college or university and shaping them into the roles needed in the future. And it is the future we’re talking about. Now I don’t expect 2011’s graduates to stay with one employer for the whole of their career (although we may see longer term periods of employment in a flat lining economy) but we should bear in mind that this year’s university graduates may well be in the workforce until 2060. What role will we be preparing people for? What will that future look like? Imagine someone joining an organisation in 1951 and retiring this year? Look at the changes they have experienced. Data processing in the 1950s involved hand written ledgers and countless clerks. Will this year’s graduates look back at our current highly technological work environment and see something they regard as equally antiquated? They might.

The issue is that those who succeed will do so not just because they can respond to change, but will succeed because they drive it – both innovating on their own and applying last year’s innovations in new ways within next year’s contexts.

So we are preparing people for a very different organisation and a very different world than the one we currently live and work in. And that brings me to the challenge facing HR teams and learning professionals to adequately prepare a new crop of future employees for a world which may be very different.

One relatively safe prediction I think I can make is that whatever development route is envisioned for this group will be primarily work-based. It will also harness connectivity – the endless opportunities to interact with information, opinion and people remotely – with which those of us who grew up with a typing pool next door are only just coming to terms. Our ‘Generation C’ employees (the C stands for connected) take this way of being completely for granted.

There will be formal training input but for the main part the learning will be work-based – learning through doing, finding out, responding to new situations by developing new ways of working, new behaviours and new skills. This is not the same as some talent management programmes in larger organisations, where staff are moved round every few years, taking on new projects and new roles. From the outside, the impact of these roundabout moves is not the deepening and shaping of strategy in response to new market conditions, but a strategic role which is subsumed beneath careerist mark making. Making an impact by undoing all that your predecessor has done, achieving one noteworthy thing then keeping your head down until the next move comes along and the process repeats itself.

I spoke to some senior managers about career and development planning and performance appraisal meetings recently. Every one of them noted how the people who report to them were hungry for progression – repeatedly outlining how their potential could best be achieved by taking on a new challenge, stretching their skills in new environments. Clearly, it is easier to make a mark by sweeping out the old, than it is by maintaining and incrementally enhancing the familiar and the business as usual.

So we may need a new paradigm for the development of our future talent – a talent that will succeed or fail in a very different environment than the one we now know. That paradigm starts with identifying the crucial skills which these individuals will need as they face the future decades. Interestingly, I don’t think the universities and colleges should be criticised for not developing the skills to work in current business. This would be a backward looking step. You and I wouldn’t be that impressed by someone who drives a car forward but focuses all their attention on their rear -view mirror. So, why would we want someone with a skill set which is already out of date by the time they have a chance to use it?

Instead we must look for those individuals with the universal skills which will enable them to take advantage of the uncertainties of the future.

First among these is being a skilled information seeker. I first coined this phrase around 10 years ago. The internet was still relatively new and we were just coming to terms with the impact that these new sources of information were having on work. An organisation called Echelon published a report based on a survey of HR directors and training people. In a nut shell it said that work roles were now so complicated and required such depth and breadth of knowledge that an individual couldn’t realistically be expected to know (in terms of having memorised) everything they would need to do their job. In short, knowing how to look things up was going to be essential for the future.

If only we’d known quite how far things would go! Recent studies suggest that human memory capacity is actually getting smaller as individuals effectively delegate the job of remembering stuff to a series of devices with effectively infinite capacity. I spoke to a group of teenagers recently, none of whom knew their home telephone number. It was speed dial two.

As the wealth of digital information and disinformation has grown, being a skilled information seeker has become not only a foundation stone, an essential capability for the 21st Century – it has also evolved as a skill set. No longer is it enough to know how to search and navigate various information sources. Now, it is necessary to have a degree of media literacy previously undreamt of. The differentiator for those who succeed through to 2060 will not simply be an ability to find information, but to critically analyse it, to sift the definitive from the deceptive, to know the difference between the proven and the porky pie. Many don’t. Those reviewing dissertations and theses from students now have to explain very, very slowly to their charges that Wikipedia is not necessarily a reliable reference source. The co-founder of Wikipedia, Jerry Sanger, was a philosophy professor at Ohio State University. He would deduct five marks from any student who cited Wikipedia as a source. When asked about this, Jimmy Wales, the other brain behind the 7th most visited website in the world, agreed with his former colleague’s practice. To quote Wales in an interview with the Independent last year: “Whatever 26-year-old tech geek males are interested in we do a very good job on. [But] things that are in other fields we could do with some more users participating.”

So skill one for those who will lead our organisations in two or three decade’s time is to be a skilled information seeker with the ability to differentiate reliable from unreliable information.
But looking things up is not the same as learning and my next crucial capability is to be a skilled, independent learner.

In an environment where work related learning may be fragmented – a combination of on the job experiences, use of learning programmes, in part online, and developmental projects (as well as very occasional course attendance) – the multi-dimensional learner who cannot only open themselves up to these new experiences but reflect on what these experiences may mean for the future, will be a valuable individual in any team. The connectivity I mentioned earlier will be a real focus of this reflection. Not in being a consumer of the blogs and wikis of others, but in contributing and articulating concepts, theories, ideas and experiences in ways which resonate with peers. Jimmy Wales’s 26 year old tech geek males provide an interesting model for future learners.

The real value of online connectivity as part of the learning process is not necessarily in the raft of information thus made available. It is in the process of constructing these artefacts of our work experience that real value will be – and already is being – generated. Working on a project recently in which groups of learners from different locations will be brought together for short periods; the value of the ongoing remote community was discussed. We all agreed that membership would be reserved not for those who turn up for the workshops, but limited to those who contribute to the ongoing debates through posts, blogs and online experience sharing. Contributing is not an option, it is a requirement.

My third and final skill is what I call an enquiring mind. This is not just a function of problem solving in a connected world. It is about someone who asks the awkward questions, challenges received wisdoms and established conventions. When working with a group involved in innovation recently I came across “knowledge scouts”. Their role is not to think up new ideas, but scout around for new insights about the ways innovations are being used and the people and organisations with the capabilities to contribute to the creation of commercially viable new products. They are mining the creativity which surrounds us and asking simple questions. What if we did that too? Does the fact that these consumers use X mean that if we create Y they would also use that? They are trend-spotters and observers of the zeitgeist. Not to rip off the ideas of someone else, but to re-shape novelty in their own image. They synthesise what is going on and create new opportunities from unexpected combinations of ideas and innovations. The mash-up first seen in night clubs and music videos has become a tool for exploiting ideas by standing on the shoulders of the achingly fashionable giants which surround us.

Now look at your own organisation’s competence framework. In there will be a set of core behaviours and skills, common to all roles in your organisation. They are intended to be the very warp and weft of your organisational culture. Do you recognise my key skills for growing your own talent in those common capabilities? Teaching your 2011 intake the stuff which gets done in your organisation is going to be hard enough. Teaching them if they don’t have these essential skills in the future, will be nigh on impossible.

Robin Hoyle is the head of learning at Infinity Learning, the education design company that develops new technologies to deliver tailoured learning solutions

Graduate schemes – another path to employment

Things seem pretty bleak at the moment if you are young and unemployed. One in five university graduates are yet to secure work joining the nearly one million 16 to 24-year-olds currently without a job.

However one path towards employment that could prove to be attractive now more than ever is graduate schemes, where young people learn on the job before, hopefully, they fill the role full-time.

That is precisely where 21-year-old Sarah Turnbull has found herself right now. After completing a degree in Law from the University of Bristol in June, she managed to find a place on a graduate scheme operated by engineering firm e2v in September despite a challenging jobs market.

“It is most probably the amount of jobs available,” she said, sharing her thoughts on why so many former students are out of work, “there are more people graduating now but there is the same number of jobs as five or ten years ago so there is more competition for each role now and employers can be more selective.”

The company she now works for specialises in technological developments and was involved in such high profile programmes as the Hubble Space Telescope and the Airbus 380. She is one of fifteen who have secured a placement on the company’s graduate scheme which was re-launched in September after a break of five years. The programme is also designed to enhance leadership skills and self development.

Turnbull has found that entering a graduate scheme rather than going straight into a job has had is advantages. “I think most graduates would like on to get on one because it’s aimed at them,” she said. “It is like the next step and then you can develop your skills and find an area you are interested in, rather than you go into say a normal job where you have the same role and you either like it or you don’t.”

For this reason she said graduate schemes like hers would be ideal for business management students who are unsure about exactly which aspect of commerce they want to go into. In this way new entrants can take time to explore the company they work for and find their niche, as Turnbull explains: “You get to see the different areas within the business and the company can also see where you are best suited.”

The variety of the scheme is something that Sarah finds exciting and she and the rest of the new intake will spend two years experiencing the different sectors of the business. At the moment she is working with e2v’s marketing team, something she says she is finding very much to her liking. “You have to know about the products in order to market them to their full potential. In my induction week we were shown quite a few of the products so it helps to grow the company if you understand what they are making and the complexity of what they are making as well.”

As for the projects themselves, Turnbull has already been involved in marketing the company’s Flying Gaia space mission project and had the chance to meet with representatives from NASA and ESA (European Space Agency). “[e2v] made all the imaging and cameras that go into it and they are hopefully launching in 2013,” she explained. “Its aim is to produce a 3D map of the galaxy, or part of it, so when they are working with partners lie NASA an ESA you know it’s quite big.” Turnbull’s work involves not only the astronomical but the also microscopic as she has observed e2v’s manufacturing of parts for machines for cancer treatment.

Turnbull’s father was an electrical engineer before he retired and he was pleased when he heard she would be working in engineering. “He was a little disappointed I wouldn’t be making things but he was still proud when he heard I was working for an engineering company because it was something that he was interested in and it is something that is always needed.”

She moved from her home in Devon to be nearer to her office which is based in Chelmsford, Essex. She now lives with her boyfriend, 20 miles away, in Epping.
Although she still has the best part of two years until she completes her graduate training, she is looking forward he future with e2v. “It’s challenging but once it is finished the company will identify where they think I will be best suited. I’m hoping to be working in the commercial side of things.” For now, she can look forward to her next rotation in the company in five months time.

Lewis Dyson

Mixed response to Apprenticeship increases

The number of people starting Apprenticeships has more than doubled over the past year, new figures have revealed.

Provisional data shows there were 442,700 apprenticeship starts between August 2010 and July 2011, compared to 279,700 in 2009 to 2010.

The findings have been hailed by Business Secretary Vince Cable but greeted with scepticism by some who say the growth in Apprenticeships is not in the right age groups or in the necessary sectors.

Further and Higher Education policy officer for the University and College Union (UCU), John Offord, claimed the statistics were misleading.

“This is not something to be breaking out the champagne for,” warned Offord.

He said many of schemes offered to young people were not Apprenticeships in the traditional sense with some lasting only 12 weeks.

“I would question whether this is anything more than a little bit of government re-categorising to shift people out of the not in education, employment or training (NEET) category and into these so-called apprenticeships,” he added.

The news comes as the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) estimates that education spending will fall by over 13% between 2010-11 and 2014-15 including a £200m cut to the budget of career services. Offord said that many of the people taking up these new Apprenticeships could have instead benefited from terminated policies like Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA).

Critics have warned the growth is not in the necessary age groups as the biggest rise was in the over-25s. The data from Statistical First Release (SFR) show there were 175,500 Apprenticeship starts by those aged 25 and over, a 257% rise on the 49,100 starts the previous year.

Meanwhile, the under-19 age group saw a smaller 10% increase from 116,800 in 2009-10 to 128,300 in 2010-11. There was a 22% rise in those aged 19 to 24 starting Apprenticeships, up to 138,900 from 113,800 over the same time period.

Welcoming the Apprenticeship growth, the Business Secretary said: “This Government’s unprecedented investment in Apprenticeships is working for businesses and creating long term career opportunities for record numbers of trainees.”

The National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) also welcomed the findings, with a spokesperson saying: “This is not only great news for young people, but also for employers and the economy.”

However, some sectors are concerned by the relatively modest uptake of Apprenticeships in key growth areas when compared with those in retail and business.

Business, Administration and Law Apprenticeships rose by 70% and Retail and Commercial Enterprise increased by 63%, whereas Construction, Planning and the Built Environment rose by 5% and Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies by 24%.

Stephanie Fernandes, of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), said: “If the government is serious about rebalancing the economy towards manufacturing then focus needs to be provided to ensure apprenticeship funding is targeted on this sector. A 24% increase in engineering and manufacturing apprenticeships against a backdrop of a 50% increase across all sectors, should be cause for concern.”

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills said funding for Apprenticeships has been increased in 2011-12 to over £1.4bn including a £25m fund to support up to 10,000 Advanced Level and Higher Apprenticeships.

Cable pledged to “drive up standards, cut bureaucracy for smaller firms and deliver more advanced level and high tech training.”

Lewis Dyson