39 apprenticeships created by Darlington firms (From The Northern Echo)


39 apprenticeships created by Darlington firms

8:00am Tuesday 20th March 2012 in North-East Business News Photograph of the Author By Owen McAteer

FIRMS in a Tees Valley town yesterday announced the creation of up to 39 apprenticeships and training opportunities across three different sectors.

The apprenticeships in the construction, engineering and education sectors comes as The Northern Echo aims to increase opportunities for young people through our Foundation for Jobs campaign.

Darlington based Cleveland Systems Engineering yesterday announced it was taking on two further apprentices next month after winning new orders from Cummins, which is also based in the town.

In addition Southdale, which has its regional office in Darlington announced it would create up to 35 new apprenticeships and training opportunities across the North-East and North Yorkshire this year.

Darlington School of Mathematics and Science has also taken two apprentices onto its staff.

Cleveland Systems Engineering, which specialises in the design and installation of control systems used in manufacturing and process industries, initially intended to add one apprentice to the eight it already trains.

But after being unable to pick between Joanne Alden, 18, and Stephen Searle, 17, the company’s managing director Tam Ashcroft decided to take on both.

As well as Cummins the Lingfield Way firm’s clients include Perkins Engines, United Biscuits and Coca Cola.

Mr Ashcroft, himself a former apprentice, who set up the firm in 1995, said: “Taking on apprentices was about more than just adding to our team.

“It was about giving something back and presenting these young people an opportunity to begin a career in engineering.”

Mr Ashcroft worked with South West Durham Training (SWDT) to identify the new recruits, who will start at the firm next month.

Both are currently undertaking training at SWDT’s Core facility in Newton Aycliffe.

“Both Joanne and Stephen will, I am sure, play a part in the growth and development of the business as we look to secure further work in the future,” Mr Ashcroft added.

Charl Erasmus, operations manager at SWDT said: “Cleveland Systems Engineering is a highly technical company that requires a team with an extremely specific and specialised skill set, combining electrical and engineering as well as software expertise.

“Stephen and Joanne are both very hardworking and enthusiastic young people and I am sure this, combined with the skills they have learned at our centre will equip them.”

Construction and development firm Southdale said it aimed to create four apprenticeships at each of its sites following the receipt of more than 300 CVs from young people during the first two months of 2012.

Southdale’s regional director Trudie McCormick said: “This volume of interest reflects the levels of enthusiasm for work in the North East, especially at a time when there are growing numbers of young people not in education, employment or training.”

Meanwhile Emma Wright and Robyn Smith are getting to grips with working life at Darlington School of Mathematics and Science.

The 19-year-olds are being trained on reception and in the library at the academy, which is one of the fastest improving schools in the country.

Both are working towards a Level 3 diploma in business and administration.

DSMS head teacher Calvin Kipling said: “The quality of candidates for the apprenticeships was astounding and Emma and Robyn have fitted in extremely well with students, staff and parents.”

The Northern Echo’s Foundation for Jobs, in association with Darlington Partnership, aims to create at least 100 apprenticeship places and 100 internships at firms in the borough, as well as helping 1,000 youngsters establish formal links with local companies. .

For more details on how you can get involved go to northernecho. co. uk/ foundationforjobs

Paul Champion
Strategic Project Manager

Mobile: 07540 704920

Academy teaches students how to build bikes, with each first creation sent to Africa | Springwise


The Bicycle Academy is launching a four day fillet brazing course in Somerset, which will teach skills to participating students and result in working bikes for the needy in Africa.

It wasn’t long ago that we were writing about Zambikes, a social enterprise helping Zambians learn how to create bikes. Now we’ve come across another startup with a focus on bicycles that’s also hoping to do some good in the developing world. The Bicycle Academy aims to teach bike building skills in the UK, with each apprentice’s first creation sent to Africa.

Founded by mechanical design engineer Andrew Denham with the help of frame builder Brian Curtis, the startup runs from a workshop in Somerset, England, where those enrolling on the course will have access to the equipment and material they need to build a bike frame. They will be taught fillet brazing — a type of welding that links metal tubes with bronze — over four days of training sessions, for five hours a day. Students will work to specifications to build a TBA Africa bike frame, which has been designed especially for use in Africa. Once completed, the frame will be used to form a working bike which will be shipped off for use by those in need. The Bicycle Academy has teamed up with the charity Re-Cycle to facilitate distribution, with plans for the bikes’ components to be produced by World Bicycle Relief. After graduating, students can make use of the workshop for their own projects. Beginning in June, the course costs GBP 1,000 for single learners, or GBP 600 each for pairs.

The Bicycle Academy aims to offer UK bike lovers the skills to get more involved with their passion while benefitting those less fortunate. An idea to emulate in your part of the world?

Website: www.thebicycleacademy.org
Contact: hello

Spotted by: Cecilia Biemann

Paul Champion
Strategic Project Manager

Mobile: 07540 704920

Minimum wage frozen for young people – Telegraph


Minimum wage frozen for young people

Minimum wage frozen for young people

Minimum wage frozen for young people

Photo: Alamy

Last Updated: 3:49PM GMT 19/03/2012

The adult rate of the minimum wage is to rise by 11p to £6.19 an hour from October, Business Secretary Vince Cable announced today.

But the rates for younger workers will be frozen at £4.98 for 18 to 20-year-olds and £3.68 for 16 to 17-year-olds. Apprentices will enjoy a 5p increase in their minimum wage to £2.65 an hour.

The changes are in line with the recommendations of the independent Low Pay Commission and come into effect on October 1.

Mr Cable said: ”I believe that the recommendations of the Low Pay Commission strike the right balance between pay and jobs, and have therefore accepted all the rate recommendations. The Low Pay Commission has done a good job in difficult circumstances.

”In these tough times freezing the youth rates has been a very hard decision – but raising the youth rates would have been of little value to young people if it meant it was harder for them to get a job in the long run.”

LPC chair David Norgrove – who was today reappointed for a second four-year term – said: “We welcome the Government’s acceptance of our recommendations on the rates for the National Minimum Wage.

“The Commission was again unanimous, despite all the economic uncertainties and the different pressures on low-paid workers and businesses. We believe we have struck the right balance between the needs of these workers and the challenges faced by employers.”

The minimum wage was introduced by Labour in 1999 at £3.60 an hour for adults, and is revised each year on the basis of recommendations from the Low Pay Commission.

This year’s 11p hike for workers aged 21 and over amounts to a 1.8% rise – around half of CPI inflation, which stood at 3.6% in the most recent figures.

It increases the annual pay for a full-time worker on 40 hours a week on minimum wage by £228.80 to £12,875.

Asked what the justification was for the freeze on rates for younger workers, Prime Minister David Cameron’s official spokesman said: “We are accepting the LPC recommendations. I think the judgment that has been made is one about youth employment rates.

“Raising youth rates wouldn’t benefit young people if it meant that it was more difficult for them to find a job.”

Unison union general secretary Dave Prentis said today’s announcement was “bitterly disappointing and will condemn millions of families to life on the breadline”.

Mr Prentis added: “While the Chancellor looks set to cut income tax for the very richest, those at the bottom of the pay pile do not have enough to live on.

“An extra 11p an hour is simply not enough. Millions of workers need a living wage of £8 an hour to cope with rising prices and keep them out of poverty.

“And what message are we sending to our young people when the rates for those under 21 are frozen? They deserve a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work, and should not be left vulnerable to exploitation.

“Of course it is taxpayers who lose out too, as they will have to pick up the in-work benefits bill because of Scrooge employers.”

Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB union, said: “The proposed increase in the national minimum wage is below the rate of inflation and will lead to a drop in living standards for the lowest-paid workers in our economy. It is a missed opportunity to put purchasing power into the hands of those who will boost consumption.

“Freezing pay for young workers, many of whom work in the profitable retail sector, is a further kick in the teeth from the Government that increased tuition fees to £9,000.”

John Longworth, director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: “We are disappointed that the Government has chosen to raise the adult national minimum wage rate by 1.8% – far above our recommendation.

“While the pressures of inflation are hurting many people, especially the lowest paid, this decision adds significantly to the cost of doing business, and feeds wage inflation at higher levels.

“In his Budget on Wednesday, the Chancellor should offset the hike in the national minimum wage by scrapping the huge business rate rise which will affect many businesses from April. This rate rise will stop many from employing more people, whether on minimum wage or above.”

Mr Longworth added: “We are pleased that ministers have heeded our call to freeze the youth and development wage rates. Freezing these rates will ensure employers are not put off from employing young people, and give them more confidence to invest in their training.”

John Walker, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “We support the Low Pay Commission’s underlying thinking that the priority must be to ensure young workers get employment and that the rates for these workers should remain unchanged until the economy picks up.

“However, we would have supported a larger increase in the apprentices rate, both in recognition of the value apprenticeships can have for firms and to encourage more young workers to enter into these schemes.”

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “The LPC should have been bolder in its recommendations. Even in the current economic climate there was room for an increase in the minimum wage that at the very least kept pace with inflation and earnings.

“It is wrong to deny young people an increase this year, as there is no evidence that the minimum wage has had an adverse impact on jobs. The reason why firms have not been hiring enough new workers is because they lack confidence in this Government’s ability to set the UK on course for a sound economic recovery. There is now a real danger that young people will view minimum wage work as exploitative.

“Many of the businesses that are calling for the minimum wage to be frozen are also complaining about the lack of consumer spending. Boosting demand is vital – but this will not be achieved by squeezing the low-paid even further.

“Low-paid workers, like hairdressers, shop workers and care assistants, tend to spend 100% of any salary increase in their local economy, so a well-judged rise in the minimum wage would have a beneficial effect across the UK.”

Paul Champion
Strategic Project Manager

Mobile: 07540 704920

Government announces changes to vocational training and apprenticeship loans | Solar Power Portal


Government announces changes to vocational training and apprenticeship loans

It has long been an ambition of the training industry to allow more adult-learners to partake in apprenticeships. It appears that industry calls have been answered after the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (DBIS) announced that, from September 2013, apprentices over the age of 24 will be able to access student loans for level 3 training courses.

Electrical training company, Tradeskills4U, helped provide written evidence to the DBIS debate on apprenticeship funding. With the assistance of local Sussex MP’s Francis Maude and Henry Smith, Tradeskills4U suggested that, as per degree students attending university, 24-year-old plus students taking ‘apprenticeship vocational courses’ should be able to secure a student loan to help pay for their courses. The DBIS committee published a report on February 23 that including this suggestion. As a result, from September 2013 apprenticeship vocational courses can now be financed by the student loan system, with payback of the loan only starting after an income of at least £21,000 has been achieved.

Tradeskills4U’s Managing Director, Carl Bennett, said: “Whilst our contribution was only a small part of a much larger debate, this issue marks an important shift in the way FE students will be funded in the future and can only increase the quality of training in the FE industry and enable students to have more of a say in their training needs.”

Government has committed to increase the funding available for apprenticeships over the next 4 years, after it was determined that apprenticeships provide good value to the UK economy. The report also revealed that those qualified via apprenticeships, on average, earn 12 percent more than those without a level 3 qualification. It also highlighted that return on investment for Government spending on apprenticeships was very high, at least £18 for every £1 spent. A full copy of the report can be downloaded from here.

Paul Champion
Strategic Project Manager

Mobile: 07540 704920

Sage/IAB fundable skills aid employability – 15yr old learner starts a business!


Sage/IAB fundable skills aid employability –

Top Story

15yr old learner starts a business!

The innovative partnership between Sage and the International Association of Bookkeepers is the first of its kind and provides an enterprising new Qualifications and Credit Framework-listed and fundable accredited qualification.

This is an important partnership for employers. With a QCF accredited qualification an employer knows that the learner must have attained knowledge and understanding at that level to gain the certification. There are currently over 830,000 users of Sage in the UK, it is a skill that is in great demand and this is the first levelled accreditation.

The move brings accountancy into the 21st century as few business use pen and ink – but most accountancy qualifications major on that area. In particular the course will have appeal and relevance to younger learners – Find out about a 15yr old learner who started her own business.

photo of Bronwyn Wilson holding certificates

15-year-old entrepreneur Bronwyn Wilson recently obtained her qualifications after starting her own business

Sage and the IAB felt that together they could make a qualification which provided accounting knowledge combined with accounting skills. In this way the functionality the software has available could be applied to the knowledge and understanding gained.

In addition the extra functions a computerised accounting package can offer could be highlighted to be certain that a business has use of the latest features and can see how easy they are to use. Many businesses only partially use their accounting program and yet there are powerful functions available at their fingertips.

There are many bookkeeping courses available but no others combine accounting knowledge with the use of Sage 50 to give a totally unique and highly relevant accredited qualification jointly certified by both organisations. The learning materials available are constantly updated for any new release of the software so that learners and providers can be certain of gaining the most up-to-date knowledge available. In addition every learner is given a copy of Sage 50 Accounts Professional 2012*, which is the ‘Rolls Royce’ version of the Sage 50 range. (*time limited).

Learn more about AQ4B

Is there an answer to youth unemployment?


Is there an answer to youth unemployment?

apprentice bricklayerIan Nicholson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The news on youth unemployment is worse than you think. It’s not just that the rate of unemployment among the under 25s has reached a record level, and it’s not just that the numbers keep on climbing. It’s the fact that this decline in the employment of young people started well before the recession.

The government has launched a consultation into what on earth can be done. However, the answer could be in front of us right now: apprenticeships.

Stark figures

The figures make for fairly depressing reading. The unemployment rate for young people has risen to an astonishing 22.3% – compared to 9% across all age groups. They have been quick to be laid off in the tough times, and are finding it nigh-on impossible to find new work.

And this isn’t the worst of it: the Work Foundation points out that this isn’t just the effect of the recession, because the employment of young people has been dropping since 2004. And while it doesn’t offer any particular reasons, it is happy to speculate that as roles have become more complex, and more reliant on specific technology, experience has become more valued.

It seems fairly hopeless for young people right now. However, there is a glimmer of optimism offered by apprenticeships.


These are jobs offering on-the-job training to young people, run alongside more formal training. An apprentice will work towards a specific qualification, while at the same time getting trained up in job-specific skills. Some will work three or four days a week and study for the rest of the time, while others will do 95% of their training in the workplace.

For the young person the benefits are clear: they get training while getting paid at the same time, and they are in a full time job with a proper contract for the duration of their training. At the end of the apprenticeship they will be in a position to advance within the organisation. Jessie Buscombe, Head of Employer Accounts at the National Apprenticeship Service, says the better prospects equate to extra earnings of £100,000 over the course of an apprentice’s career.


There is also the advantage that instead of leaving education with £40,000 of debt, like a university student, those on apprenticeships will be making money throughout their studies. Buscombe says: “It’s an alternative to academic education. It’s not better or worse. It partly depends on the career the individual is working towards, and how they prefer to learn. Increasingly because of the high cost of university, young people are weighing up the costs and benefits and may see apprenticeships as more beneficial to them.”

The appeal for the employer lies partly in the fact that their pay is substantially lower than an alternative employee – in fact their minimum wage is just £2.60 an hour (for those under the age of 19 or those over the age of 19 in their first year of apprenticeship) – although many employers choose to pay more and the average salary is £170 a week. They also have the training paid for if the individual is under the age of 19, and 50% of it paid if they are older. Smaller employers can also receive a grant in addition to the funding.

Better business

Long-term, Buscome also says studies have shown increased retention of staff, productivity and even profitability. She says the robust business case has persuaded 130,000 employers to sign up to the scheme – a number that is growing rapidly.

Swift Caravans, the UK’s market leader for touring caravans and motorhomes, has reaped the benefits of the programme. Nick Page, Group Commercial Director at Swift Leisure, says: “We recognise that investing in people from an early age is important if we are to grow our talent. We have people who have been here for 25 years who started as apprentices. It is difficult to recruit engineers in this part of Yorkshire, so by supporting and helping people from the beginning, we have built a skilled and engaged workforce.”

Christian Knight is an apprentice with the company at the moment. He found the job through his course at Hull College, doing his National Diploma as part of an engineering apprenticeship with Swift. He is now working on his foundation degree, and has moved to work within the design and development team. He says: “I have always been interested in CAD and Swift gave me an opportunity here. I work closely with the team, so there is support from more experienced people. There are also quite a few apprentices in the company and we help each other too.”

Christian says it was a lifeline: “I have friends from school who are still looking for work. Through the apprenticeship I have qualifications, I have been earning throughout, and I’ll have a job at the end of it.”

Paul Champion
Strategic Project Manager

Mobile: 07540 704920

Euro unemployment hits new high in January – Wednesday, March 7, 2012 | 3:22 a.m. – Las Vegas Sun


Euro unemployment hits new high in January

The Associated Press

Wednesday, March 7, 2012 | 3:22 a.m.

Mass unemployment in Greece and Spain, where nearly half of those under 25 are out of work, sent the jobless rate across the 17-nation eurozone on Thursday to its highest level since the euro was established in 1999.

Eurozone unemployment rose to 10.7 percent from an upwardly revised 10.6 percent the previous month, according to Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics office. The change was unexpected and is likely to trigger renewed concerns over the outlook for the wider economy.

If unemployment _ and the accompanying fear of unemployment _ is rising, consumers may rein in their spending. This could further dent an already-contracting eurozone economy that’s reeling from widespread national austerity measures in response to too much government debt.

Consumers’ appetite to open their wallets will likely be further constrained by the accompanying news from Eurostat that inflation in the eurozone unexpectedly also rose in February to 2.7 percent from the previous month’s 2.6 percent.

The markets had been pricing in no change from January, and the increase takes inflation further above the European Central Bank’s target of keeping price rises at just below 2 percent. Inflation has been above target for 15 months now.

“This is particularly bad news for consumers as they are not only facing high and rising unemployment but also still squeezed purchasing power,” said Howard Archer, chief European economist at IHS Global Insight. “It had been hoped that eurozone consumer price inflation would be heading down markedly by now but these hopes are being scuppered by high oil prices.”

In recent weeks, oil prices have edged up to nine-month highs on the back of brighter economic news out of the U.S., the world’s largest economy, and ongoing tensions over Iran’s nuclear plans. Without the recent increase, analysts reckon inflation would be much closer to the ECB target, which could have given the ECB some leeway in cutting interest rates further.

Since the ECB’s primary role is maintaining its measure of price stability, persistently high inflation has reined in market expectations of any further interest rate reductions any time soon. Early this year, there had been a growing consensus that the ECB would push its benchmark interest rate below 1 percent for the first time since its creation 13 years ago.

The ECB holds its monthly policy meeting next week and all expectations are that it will keep its benchmark rate unchanged at the record low of 1 percent, especially after its massive injection of cash Wednesday into the banking system.

“The latest eurozone data revealed a combination of stubborn inflation and rising unemployment at the start of the year, suggesting that the recent rebound in consumer sentiment may falter before long,” said Ben May, European economist at Capital Economics.

The figures come as EU leaders gather in Brussels to discuss a strategy to boost economic growth. Eight of the 17 countries in the eurozone are, according to the European Commission, expected to contract during the first three months of 2012.

The eurozone economy contracted 0.3 percent in the final three months of 2011, though recent indicators have suggested that it may avoid a recession _ defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth.

Still, those sort of projections aren’t likely to do much to help turn round the unemployment rate in the eurozone.

Spain had the highest unemployment rate in the eurozone at 23.3 percent in January, while Greece’s edged up to 19.9 percent in November, the last available figures for the debt-ridden country at the center of the European debt crisis. In Spain, 49.9 percent of youths under 25 are unemployed and Greece isn’t far behind at 48.1 percent.

Among the stronger eurozone economies, Germany’s unemployment stood at 5.8 percent, France’s struck 10 percent and Austria hovered at 4 percent.

Europe’s unemployment rate has been steadily ticking up all year as the wider economy wanes in the face of a protracted debt crisis and widespread government austerity measures.

Paul Champion
Strategic Project Manager

Mobile: 07540 704920

Alderwood Education News – Employability and skills training programmes


Employability and skills training programmes

05/03/2012 10:07:07

Do employability and skills training programmes truly respond to employer needs?

New research from Alderwood Education suggests that employers are not adequately involved in developing training programmes (70%) and that candidates are less prepared for work than before the coalition came to power (30%).

Surprisingly, the research, which surveyed 396 specialists working within the employability and skills sectors, found that when it comes to recruiting, only 4% believed employers rated education highly and only a fifth (20.8%) considered literacy and numeracy as one of the key concerns of employers. Instead, 70% of those questioned believed employers consider relevant skills for the job to be the most important quality in a candidate, followed by relevant work experience (47.5%) and readiness for work, (39.1%). When questioned as to the primary reasons preventing employers from taking on the long-term unemployed via the Work Programme, lack of readiness for work was deemed to be the highest concern, (45%), with lack of skills required and insufficient job opportunities falling joint second.

Carried out just a month after the government confirmed plans to remove statutory work placements for all 14-16 year olds in the UK, the research reveals serious dissatisfaction with the way vocational careers are publicised at schools. Indeed, 88% of those questioned felt more should be done to promote vocational routes into employment.

The survey also found broad agreement that more needs to be done to tackle unemployment on a regional, rather than a national, level, (75%). It was deemed that localism does not feature strongly enough as an agenda; conversely demand and supply is often considered a regional issue.

Anton Roe, Director at Alderwood Education commented: “This research clearly points to the fact that there is an ever increasing gap between employer needs and what the huge pool of unemployed people currently has to offer. In order to get people back into work, this skills gap needs to be addressed. More must be done to provide our potential workforce with the tools they need for employment.”

Lord Knight, former Minister for Employment and Welfare Reform said: “It’s clear that the coalition needs to revise its strategy for getting Britain back into work. We need to ensure that skills development is at the top of the agenda for both the government and businesses across the UK.“

Those surveyed as part of this research were employed within either the skills or employability sectors and range in level from delivery (predominantly Apprenticeship Assessors and Personal Advisors), to Director and above. If you would like additional information about the survey results, please contact Lucy Pope on lucy.pope.

Alderwood Education is a UK-wide recruitment agency specialising in the Welfare to Work, Work Based Learning and Education sectors. For further information, please visit – www.alderwoodeducation.com.

Paul ChampionStrategic Project Manager

Mobile: 07540 704920

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Saudi- Education coupled with vocational training will boost competitiveness


The rest of the world is now getting the message about vocational learning.

Saudi- Education coupled with vocational training will boost competitiveness

(MENAFN – Arab News) Saudi Arabia’s education system came under a critical spotlight at the opening session of day two of the Jeddah Economic Forum on Monday.

The panelists in a lively and at times outspoken analysis of the structure and output of the system both criticized it for teaching theoretical and impractical skills that had little relevance to the real-world jobs market and the needs of the private sector.

Hamad Al-Sheikh, deputy education minister for boys at the Ministry of Education, countered with a comprehensive description of the plans and projects under development within the ministry that indicated that there was reform in hand.

The minister reviewed the history and structure of the current education system in the Kingdom and stressed the intention to build a knowledge-based society that was “a contributor to human wealth.”

He said that globalization had eliminated barriers between people and barriers to world knowledge. “It has forced states into competitiveness – Saudi needs to be competitive, and we need to match the educational skills of the international market.” he added.

For the future, he said, he sought major strategies for the development of education.

“Our schools lack administrative structure – there is isolation around teachers, no incentives for teachers or students. The school we seek will encourage students and teachers to seek a high level of community participation,” he said.

He presented future programs including development of English language skills, the establishment of an independent assessment organization – and initiatives for private sector input to public education, an initiative for the improvement of teachers qualified from Saudi universities and an organization for the promotion of teachers through assessment.

Abdullah Dahlan, chairman of the board of trustees, CBA (College of Business Administration, Jeddah), said education did not measure up to the market’s need for skilled labor. “Many students go in for a year of foundation course before they get accepted in universities and their graduates in turn are not able to get jobs because their education does not meet the market needs.”

“I was a student 40 years ago. I went into investment business and then came back to education through teaching at the university only to find that the curriculums have not changed,” he pointed out.

Dahlan said that 82 percent of graduates have studied theoretical programs, while only the remaining 18 percent graduated in scientific majors that are of interest to the job market. This has resulted in unemployment, he said. “The solution does not lie in sending these graduates for teaching,” he said commenting on the large number of teachers that the Kingdom has compared to other professionals.

He stressed that there is need for providing education with training to meet the labor market requirements. “Many (employers) do not want to employ Saudis because they lack the required skills.”

According to him, the serious problem facing the Arab region is educational and not political. “45 percent of the Arab population is illiterate,” he said, adding that a vast number of people in the region study only for 5 years while in other regions the number is as high as 15 years.

Dahlan said the private sector also has to shoulder the responsibility for the low level of education. “Investors tend to go for businesses that give immediate returns, and do not plan for long term projects with employment potential,” he said.

Dahlan believed that the education authorities were only concerned with certificates and degrees. “They are not concerned with public education – the students, teachers and kids are just means to achieve certain ends,” he said. “If we have a good education system, we would be good at everything including planning and the economy, building humans and even the survival of leaderships and nations.”

He added that his researches had revealed that there was an education crisis in the Arab World where 45 percent of people above 15 years old were illiterate and those under 25 years old had on average only five years of education whereas elsewhere it was 13. “Average expenditure is only eight percent of GDP, although Saudi Arabia has the highest. I have a total belief that we have a problem with education and this has had its impact on employment.”

This, he said, had contributed to the belief in the private sector that Saudis did not have the skills they needed for the private sector.

The leadership has deployed billions to support employment but the private sector is the prime suspect at not employing Saudi graduates. Their prime excuse is that Saudis are not qualified, and did not have the skills we need in the private sector.

“The main reason for the failure of Saudi university graduate students is the mainstream public education system which depends on learning by rote and does not develop the curriculum, concentrates on theoretical not practical. We now have high-school graduates who do not have the ability to study at university,” he said.

Malaysia, said Noor Hashim, special advisor on education at Khazanah National, has a holistic approach to education and has found that the child develops faster if the teacher is good. While the educational structure is highly ordered and bureaucratic, the approach to teaching is flexible and focused on making children thinkers, not simply rote learners and absorbers of fact. “That is no good for the jobs market,” she said.

“We have brought in people to change the methods of teaching to make sure that we deliver the goods, she said.” The most important thing in teaching and learning is to engage the child – not just feeding.

The high flying graduates of the system have been encouraged to return to teaching after working for some time in the private sector perhaps as lawyers, doctors and other professionals.

“They train for two years to become teachers and have changed the nature of teaching,” she noted. She cited one experiment that saw a group taught by these returnees as improving their English skills by 15 percent and math skills by more that 35 percent in just one month. “We cannot be conclusive yet, but the results look positive,” she said.

Jari Lavonen, professor of physics and chemistry education at the University of Helsinki, avowed that the most important part of the education system were the teachers.

The Finnish example devolved power within the system to the lowest levels – classroom and individual school. “Trust between teachers and of teachers is a very important element in the system,” he said.

Paul ChampionStrategic Project Manager

Mobile: 07540 704920

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Alabama Moves to Deal With Shortage of Apprentices | Story ID: 17762 | Construction Equipment Guide


Another international perspective on the importance of Apprenticeships. USA

Alabama Moves to Deal With Shortage of Apprentices

Alarm bells began to ring loudly seven years ago.

In 2005 the Construction Labor Research Council warned that with many workers in the industry of an age when they would retire in the next decade, unless more apprentices were brought into construction there would be a severe shortage in skilled trades such as carpenters, electricians, pipefitters and welders.

By 2007 the U.S. Department of Labor was forecasting a 1.5 million shortfall of construction workers by 2012. Although the recession that followed meant the industry lost jobs, the situation has improved to a point where Alabama is already seeing fewer craftspersons than are needed. This problem will be exacerbated as the economy recovers, particularly with potential growth in the state’s automobile manufacturing facilities, anticipated upgradings of infrastructure, and transportation and energy projects.

Given that the average age of craftspersons now working in construction is 47, and that currently for every four workers who retire or leave the industry only one enters it, the situation will become more urgent with each passing year.

A major factor in the shortage of apprentices in construction is the current strong focus on college degrees as a path to a successful career, leading to neglect of skilled trades as a viable and equally valuable career choice.

During his recent testimony to the Senate on the looming crisis, Mike Rowe, host of the popular TV series Dirty Jobs, noted that “American manufacturing is struggling to fill 200,000 vacant positions.

Paul ChampionStrategic Project Manager

Mobile: 07540 704920

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