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Welfare Reform on the Web (August 2008): Education - UK - training

Building a competitive society

C. Humphries

Working Brief, June 2008, p. 9-11

The author is chief executive of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills and outlines its role in up-skilling the working population. As an employer-led organisation responsible for championing the development of a demand led skills and employment system and encouraging greater investment in people, it will:

  • Monitor and challenge the performance of parts of the national employment and skills systems in creating sustained employment and career progression
  • Aim to simplify and integrate the employment and skills systems so that they better meet the needs of both employers and individuals
  • Recommend improvements in policy and delivery, including the better use of skills at all levels
  • Suggest further innovations and advise how employment and skills related services can work together to deliver a more effective and integrated system

How effective are collaborative approaches for widening participation in further education and training?

M. Giwa

Research in Post-Compulsory Education, vol. 13, 2008, p. 79-105

This study examines the different types, of collaboration used by providers to widen participation in further education and training in England between 2001 and 2003 and explores their effectiveness. The first section, an introduction, sets the scene for the study and definitions are offered for key terms 'collaboration' and 'widening participation.' Using a case-study approach, employing multiple methods of data collection, the researchers conclude that various collaborative approaches can be effectively used to recruit members of ethnic minority communities (as defined by the Learning and Skills Council) and the long-term unemployed into further education and training programmes. The evidence is, however, less conclusive regarding the contribution of collaborative approaches to enabling members of these communities to achieve their learning aims. Finally, a number of recommendations are made for improving collaborative practices.

'Nothing will prevent me from doing a good job': the professionalisation of part-time teaching staff in further and adult education

J. Jameson & Y. Hillier

Research in Post-Compulsory Education, vol. 13, 2008, p. 39-53

The approximately 85,000 part-time teaching staff working in further education (FE) and adult and community learning (ACL) are often seen as a 'problem'. The dominant view is that the intrinsic 'part-timeness' of these staff tends to marginalise them, meaning they remain under-recognised and largely unsupported. However, this picture is over-simplified and this article examines how part-time staff in fact make creative use of professional autonomy and agency to mitigate the problems of casual employment conditions, using results gained from Learning and Skills Development Agency-sponsored research (2002-2006) with 700 part-time staff. The question of agency was reported as a key factor in part-time employment. In addition, change was identified as being necessary for the professional agency of part-timers to be harnessed as the sector responds to improvement agendas, following from the Foster Report and FE White Paper. The findings concluded that enhanced professionalism for part-time staff needs greater recognition and inclusion in change agendas.

Skills for life: progress in improving adult literacy and numeracy

National Audit Office

London: TSO, 2008 (House of Commons papers, session 2007-08; HC482)

This report examines the progress made by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (the Department), the then Department for Education and Skills and the Learning and Skills Council in improving adult literacy, numeracy and English language skills since NAO's previous report on Skills for Life (2004) and in particular the progress made in implementing the recommendations set out in the subsequent report by the Committee of Public Accounts, published in January 2006. The strategy to improve basic literacy and numeracy skills has helped over 5.7 million adults achieve a qualification or other specified learning aim at a cost of 5 billion. The Department and the Learning and Skills Council exceeded targets for the number of adults reaching basic literacy and numeracy standards (750,000 by 2004 and 1.5 million by 2007). The Department is also on course to meet the 2010 target of improving the basic skills of 2.25 million adults. The report recommends that the Department undertakes a follow-up to the 2003 Skills for Life survey to discover the impact of the Skills for Life programme on the nation's skills base. Although there has been growth in the number of qualified teaching staff, the overall number of numeracy teachers remains low. The Department will therefore need to consider creative and imaginative approaches to recruitment of numeracy teachers. The report also urges that the voluntary sector could be used more to engage hard-to-reach learners.

Work skills

Department for Work and Pensions and Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills

London: TSO, 2008 (Cm 7415)

This strategy for upskilling the British working population includes:

  • Personal Skills Accounts - From 2010, individuals from age 18 who choose not to go to university will have up to 7,000 to spend on a range of vocational training courses up to level 3
  • Flexible Vocational Qualifications - bespoke training delivered by an employer can now be accredited and nationally recognised and may attract public funding
  • Adult Advancement Careers Service - from 2010, advice on skills will be provided to anyone who connects with DWP or DIUS services for any reason
  • New Bill: a consultation process will begin on giving employees the right to ask employers for the right to train. Provisions will appear in a Bill in 2008 for implementation in 2010
  • Legislative Powers: Conditions of Benefit Receipt: where lack of skills forms a significant barrier to employment, there will be a consultation on forcing economically inactive benefits recipients to undertake training or face loss of entitlements.
  • Multi Area Agreements - these will be the preferred route to empower local partnerships and will be the means by which the DWP and DIUS will conduct dialogue with local areas about devolving responsibilities.
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