News at a glance

FE news | Published in TES magazine on 25 May, 2012

Some businesses make skills gap a chasm

More than four out of 10 employers provided their staff with no training over the past 12 months, according to a comprehensive annual survey by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills. In interviews with more than 85,000 businesses, it found considerable variations in the provision of training, with fewer than half of employers in some inner London boroughs providing any training at all, while in Halton, Cheshire, eight out of 10 companies trained their staff. The survey found “deep and persistent” skills gaps in some industry sectors, such as among factory workers, despite the competition from abroad. Employers spent £49 billion on training last year, although half of that was in time off for employees. Just 8 per cent of that figure was spent on external training, which mostly went to private providers.

Cash injection for communities

Grants of up to £65,000 to support community learning for adults are available after the launch of the Community and Learning Innovation Fund. The Skills Funding Agency has a total of £4 million to give away to organisations with schemes to encourage adults to take up learning. Bidders will be expected to show how they will widen participation in learning, strengthen communities, maximise the impact on individuals and families and sustain its benefits. “We have recently celebrated Adult Learners’ Week, and been inspired by how learning can transform people’s lives by giving them increased self-confidence, a better quality of life and building stronger families and communities,” said Geoff Russell, chief executive of the SFA. “We know there is no one-size-fits-all model of learning, and what is exciting about this fund is that it empowers community organisations to think creatively about how they respond to the needs of local people in a sustainable way.” Applications can be made via the adult education body Niace at

Grants on offer to upgrade vocational learning

The £50 million raised by the UfiCharitable Trust from the sale of its online training company learndirect last year will be invested in projects to transform vocational education through technology. The funding application process will open on 2 July, with the trust saying that its priorities are to train teachers to use digital tools, to help students employ technology to review each other’s work, to enable lecturers to develop digital resources, to assist thousands of learners in achieving GCSE-level maths and to develop simulations to aid in remote learning. Ray Barnes, the trust’s chairman, said: “Our vision is that whether learners are studying at a further education institution or getting on-the-job instruction, they will no longer need to go to a campus, lecture, office or workshop to learn. Instead, they will use technology to take the initiative, accessing engaging information sources using their personal tablet, computer or smartphone.”

London student wins Olympic boxing place

A student from St Francis Xavier Sixth Form College in South London has been chosen to compete in boxing at the Olympics this summer. Isaac Dogboe, aged 17, will represent Ghana in the bantamweight division, after winning a silver medal earlier this month at the Continental Olympic Qualifying Event for Africa, where he was the youngest competitor. He will join the Ghanaian squad for a tournament in Botswana, before completing final training in Plymouth and then taking up residence in the Olympic village. “I never thought I’d go to the Olympics, but just kept praying and working hard, and I’m happy I did get there in the end,” Isaac said.

Paul Champion

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