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In the News

Yorkshire colleges first to publish targets in £56m AEB pre-devolution deal

Colleges in West Yorkshire have agreed a “landmark” partnership with the combined authority to align their annual £56 million adult education budget provision while it waits for an official devolution deal to happen. The authority – made up of Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds, Wakefield and York councils, and Leeds city region enterprise partnership – has the region’s seven colleges on board with the scheme, which aims to address “acute skills shortages” faced by the area. Each college has its own targets it needs to reach as part of the partnership, including increasing starts on higher-level apprenticeship courses, improving the proportion of full-time courses with a work experience element, and increasing its income from apprenticeships. It is hoped that by reaching these targets, the colleges will help to narrow the skills gap in Leeds’ major sectors of manufacturing and engineering, health and care, infrastructure and digital. The partnership has been created while the combined authority progresses with plans for a full devolution deal, which FE Week understands is in its very early stages. Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, skills lead for the West Yorkshire’s combined authority and leader of Bradford council, said she was “immensely pleased” with the new partnership. “It is paramount...

London college merger called off at last minute

A planned merger between two London colleges has been called off at the last minute, FE Week can reveal. Barking and Dagenham College and Havering College will no longer link up on August 1, Barking’s acting chair of governors has admitted. Mark Bass told FE Week that merger discussions between the two colleges “have for the present time been discontinued”. “This was a decision taken by Havering board following a response from the Barking and Dagenham College board, in light of a review of the merger conditions set by the Barking and Dagenham College board,” he said. The merger was one of the recommendations to emerge from the east and south-east London area review, which ended in November 2016. It is now the fifteenth area review recommendation to fall through. As previously reported by FE Week, these include all three of the Tees Valley review mergers, after the collapse of a partnership between Middlesbrough College and Redcar and Cleveland College was announced earlier this month. It happened two weeks after the merger between Darlington College and Stockton Riverside College was called off, while a partnership between Hartlepool Sixth Form College and Hartlepool College also fell by the wayside earlier this...

DfE quick to rebuff ‘evidence’ of employers calling for changes to off-the-job rule

A plea for flexibility in apprenticeship off-the-job training requirements has been swiftly rebutted by the Department for Education. In a paper sent to the DfE on Monday, the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, backed by leading employers, asked that employers developing apprenticeship standards be allowed to set their own rules for how much time apprentices spend in off-the-job training. The submission included “substantial evidence” from employers, including several NHS Trusts, sandwich chain Pret a Manger and business services group Rentokil Initial, on the impact the DfE’s “arbitrary” 20 per cent off-the-job training requirement would have, and came after AELP boss Mark Dawe (pictured above) met with skills minister Anne Milton earlier this month to discuss the issue.  The paper warned of the policy’s “unintended consequences”, while employers claimed that it “limits their participation, engagement and appetite to fully embrace apprenticeships”. “Ramifications are wide-ranging, from limiting social mobility and hampering the achievement of the three million apprenticeship starts to which the current government is committed,” the AELP said. In place of this one-size-fits-all approach, the organisation asked that the employer groups developing the be allowed to “decide what the percentage of off-the-job should be for required for each of their...

Exclusive: IfA turns to headhunters after failing to recruit a permanent CEO

The Institute for Apprenticeships has failed to appoint a permanent chief executive, FE Week can reveal. A job advert for the top position at the new institute was first launched in April, with a submissions deadline date of May 22. A person for the role should have been appointed by now, but having failed to do so the IfA has turned to Odgers Berndtson, a major recruitment firm, for help. In an email sent last week to a sector leader and seen by FE Week, a recruiter from the company says: “I wanted to make contact about a chief executive opportunity I am working on for the Institute for Apprentices. “Whilst I appreciate you have just moved into a new role, I would be keen to have a word to seek your thoughts and expert opinion on this assignment and see if anyone within your network you may think is suited towards this role.” A spokesperson for the IfA then confirmed to FE Week today that the institute is still actively  looking for chief executive applicants. “We received a good response to the advert and have a strong field for the post,” he said. “At present the competition remains ongoing...