Last week
’s Higher Education (HE) policy blog looked at the European Social Fund (ESF) programme to 2020, the implications of proposed reforms to HE, and the HE fundraising workforce. This week, I reported on the International Learning Times conference, Science, Technology, English and Maths (STEM) apprenticeships, education budgets, workforce dynamics and zero-hours contracts.

The Department for Education could face a £600 million deficit in its 2015 budget, according to a report by the Association of Colleges.  Compounding this is the fact that the proportion of total training time delivered electronically by employers has reduced. According to the Chartered Institute for Professional Development (CIPD), there has been a fall in the median training budget per employee [so not much a shift to the demand side then…. – Ed]. On the plus side, FE providers have expressed surprise after it emerged a £50 million funding boost was made available to help working adults improve their basic English and maths skills. The cash, from the European Social Fund (ESF), is intended to help some of the 7.4 million adults in the workforce who have not yet achieved a level 2 qualification, equivalent to an A*-C at GCSE.

New research published by CaSE (Campaign for Science and Engineering) entitled Improving diversity in STEM assesses the last five years’ worth of data to build a picture of the current state of diversity in STEM, from education to the workforce. It is still the case that women, disabled people and those from ethnic-minorities or socially-disadvantaged groups are consistently underrepresented, particularly at senior levels, in science and engineering. The Association of Colleges has pledged its support to a national campaign to increase STEM participation.  The Chancellor has announced a new campaign to boost participation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths at school and beyond, with over 2,000 new jobs and apprenticeships on offer from leading STEM organisations. It was recently announced that thousands more apprentices are progressing into Higher Education following their apprenticeship.

As the proportion of self-employed workers increases, a new study by the Resolution Foundation has found that the typical self-employed worker earns 40 per cent less than the typical employee, and that weekly earnings for the self-employed have seen a 20 per cent fall since 2007.  Workforce statistics released this week show that employers in Britain are using about 1.4m ‘zero-hours’ contracts.  The government has announced that, under Universal Credit, jobseekers risk losing benefits if they turn down certain zero-hours contracts without good reason.  The number of older workers (aged 65+) also rose by 25,000 this quarter.

The International Learning Times conference was held in Edinburgh this week where the importance of adult motivation in continuing education and improving skills was stressed as key to sustainable economic recovery, especially for those at the lower end of the skills market. At a time when several countries are faced with shortages of qualified teachers, a new study undertaken on behalf of the European Commission looks at what Member States could do to attract the best people into the profession.

…and finally, the University of Exeter strengthened its position in the top ten of 123 UK universities for 2015 in the influential Complete University Guide, published recently.

I hope you find this information useful.



International News

Erasmus Exchanges get Down to Business
For a generation of European students, the Erasmus programme has been synonymous with having a good time while studying in another country.

Priorities of the Next European Commission – A British Perspective
Foreign Office Minister David Lidington outlined five priorities for the next European Commission in a speech at the European Policy Centre.

UK / Higher Education News

Launch of University Ranking – U-Multirank
U-Multirank, launched today, is a new tool to compare universities.

UCU – Funding Cuts Behind Massive Drop in Part-Time Students
The number of part-time students in English universities now stands at 139,000 – nearly half the 2010 total of 259,000 students, says a new report from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) released recently.

University and College Union – Annual Congress 2014
Forcing key issues in further and higher education onto political parties’ agendas will be behind debates at UCU’s annual conference next month.

10 Things You Need to Know about e-Learning
Internet-based education offers everything from a free maths lecture to a full course on ancient Roman history. But it has its critics…

UK / Employment News

Largest Employment Rise in Over 4 Decades
Employment has seen the largest quarterly rise since records began and the unemployment rate has fallen again to a new 5-year low.

SMEs Plan Major Hiring Spree, CIPD Study Reveals
As hiring intentions pick up for all employers, CIPD research has shown that small and medium sized firms are five times more likely to recruit than large firms.

CIPD – Dramatic Rise in Employer Hiring Intentions
But pay expectations remain well below pre-recession levels. The number of UK employers expecting to take on more staff has increased dramatically in the second quarter of 2014, according to the latest CIPD Labour Market Outlook (LMO).

UKTI DSO SME Seminar Biggest and Best Yet
Representatives from over 60 UK defence and security companies attended seminar on how to win business overseas.

Rising Employment is Failing to Boost Pay
“It’s encouraging to see more people in work, though many of Britain’s newly employed workforce are actually working for themselves.” – Frances O’Grady, TUC

Apprenticeships – Training Young People for Jobs of the Future
Matthew Hancock, Skills Minister, speaks about apprenticeships at the ‘Apprenticeships in the Business and Outsourced Services Industry Conference’.

UK Futures Programme – Application Form
Details of how to apply for the UK Futures Programme.

South West Labour Market News

Regional Labour Market Statistics, May 2014
The unemployment rate in Great Britain was highest in the North East (10.1%) and lowest in the South West (4.9%).

Survey to Provide an Insight into the Strengths – and Weaknesses – of the West’s Boardrooms
Swindon Business News has teamed up with executive recruitment and business consulting group Moon Consulting to investigate the skills needed for a successful board.

NCUB Welcomes University Alliance Call for Greater University-Business Collaboration
The National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB), which comprises of senior university and business leaders promoting greater collaboration, and is supported by government, has today welcomed a report from University Alliance which recommends greater links between companies and institutions in order to improve graduates’ career prospects.

Unemployed in Exeter to Benefit from Devon’s ‘Largest Ever’ Job Club
Hundreds of people are expected to attend the ‘Super Job Club’ in Exeter on Friday.

Economic Recovery in Bristol is Bedding in Well, RBS Economist Marcus Wright Tells Business
Bristol’s economy has grown by 2.8 per cent year on year showing that the recovery is well set.

Unemployment Falls to 7,243 in Gloucestershire
Unemployment has fallen for a second month in a row in Gloucestershire. Latest figures show the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance stood at 7,243 last month, a drop of 271 compared to the month before.

Gfirst – What do Jobseekers Think About Your Organisation – Free Assessment
Gfirst are working with the University of Gloucestershire to offer 30 businesses the opportunity, on a first come, first served basis, to participate in this FREE assessment of their recruitment processes.

UK Employment and Skills Research Papers

Driving future growth – core cities and the knowledge economy
Looks at how growth can be achieved and how the real estate sector can play a central role in enabling that growth. In two parts, with the first addressing the knowledge economy; what it is, why it is important and what role real estate has in supporting growth within this sector. The second part provides in-depth analysis of each core city, identifying the structural core of the knowledge economy and what sectors are set to drive future growth in that market.

Making progress – boosting the skills and wage prospects of the low paid
Proposes a skills based in-work progression policy to help individuals stuck on low pay enchance their productivity and escape the low pay trap. Boosting the skills of those stuck in low pay will also make these individuals more valuable to their employers and the the UK economy as a whole.

Rewarding work for low-paid workers
Examines how human resources and development (HRM/D) practices could help tackle in-work poverty, and assesses the business case for their adoption.

Employer involvement in qualifications delivery and assessment
Sets out the findings from research to identify good practice in employer involvement in qualifications delivery and assessment. Presents data drawn from 46 interviews with staff in Awarding Organisations (AOs), employers and training providers which were subsequently captured within 20 case studies. Each case study features qualifications meeting specific sample criteria.

Pressure from all sides – economic and policy influences on part-time higher education
Examines the influence of economic and policy factors on part-time study at publicly funded higher education providers in England. Shows that the sharp fall in part-time study since 2010-11 in publicly funded higher education is likely to have been influenced by the recession and its aftermath, alongside public policy changes.

Adult refugee learners with limited literacy – needs and effective responses, IN Refuge, Vol 30 No 1 2014, pp93-103
The study involved interviews with 36 adult refugees, two program coordinators, five course teachers, and six bilingual tutors from a community-based program in New Zealand. The challenge of working with these learners arises due not only to their experiences as refugees, but also as learners with minimal or no educational experience. Their progress depends on a skillful development of “learning to learn”, acquiring basic literacy skills, personal confidence and transfer of these skills to everyday life outside the classroom.

Breaking the cycle of disadvantage – early childhood interventions and progression to higher education in Europe
Looks at the impact of child-targeted interventions in early childhood education and care (ECEC) as well as initiatives to widen access to higher education in Europe, and their impact on social mobility in later years.

The learning curve – education and skills for life
Considers the lessons learned around inculcating skills in students. Examines how to maintain or expand skill levels among adults and explores the relevance of developed-world answers to these questions for emerging markets.

Educational outcomes – the impact of aspirations and the role of student background characteristics
Examines the relationships between student background characteristics, educational aspirations and educational outcomes using data from the Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth (LSAY). Employs econometric analyses to determine whether student background factors influence Year 12 completion and university participation only via their indirect impact on aspirations.

Macroeconomic influences on the demand for part-time higher education in the UK
Explores recent trends in part-time higher education across each of the UK countries, and adds an international perspective by making comparisons with countries beyond the UK. Considers a range of macroeconomic and policy factors that may affect part-time study.

Making the Work Programme work for ESA claimants – analysis of minimum performance levels and payment models
Sets out the financial consequences of lower-than-expected performance for Employment and Support Allowance claimants on the Work Programme, and proposals for how the funding model can be reformed for new participants.

Industry Skills Research Papers

Tackling poverty through public procurement
Asks whether rising poverty and declining social mobility can be tackled by including more recruitment and training opportunities in public contracts, such as construction projects. Highlights projects around the UK which have successfully used public procurement to address poverty through training and employment.

Getting ready for UK shale gas – supply chain and skills requirements and opportunities
A shale gas supply chain report showing huge potential economic benefits to the UK economy and measures to minimise the environmental impacts of shale gas have been announced by the Government.

The economic significance of the UK science base
Extends previous studies by examining the contribution of the UK science base to our economy at the level of industry, universities and individual researchers. It shows that, in each case, public investment in science and engineering leads to economic growth.

On the value of nature – the merits and perils of a new economy of nature
Provides a readily understandable introduction to the subject and illuminates the concepts and instruments that follow from the idea of monetarizing nature. Accessible examples show the social and ecological goal conflicts and the powerful but risk-laden influence of this New Economy.

The size and health of the UK space industry
The UK Space Agency has embarked on its biennial survey of the space industry and has contracted London Economics to undertake the task.

UK Space Agency education, skills and outreach strategy
Space has demonstrated a remarkable power to inspire widespread interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and provides exciting contexts for the teaching of a range of subjects. Growth of the space sector is hampered by the scarcity of graduates and technicians with relevant qualifications.

Local Enterprise Partnership Priorities

Improving diversity in STEM
Assesses the last five years’ worth of data to build a picture of the current state of diversity in STEM, from education to the workforce. It is still the case that women, disabled people and those from ethnic-minorities or socially-disadvantaged groups are consistently underrepresented, particularly at senior levels, in science and engineering.

Delivering change – supporting links between universities and high-growth firms in cities
A series of case studies in the UK and abroad showing different ways universities, high-growth firms and cities collaborate. Some take advantage of history and brand such as Cambridge, while others build cross-border networks in order to build scale and make greater investments than they could on their own.

Spreading the benefits of digital participation
Recommendations to government and its private and third sector partners on how barriers to digital inclusion can be overcome so that everyone in Scotland can benefit from the digital revolution.

A new conversation – employer and college engagement
Highlights the mutual benefits of close working links between colleges and employers and aims to prompt further discussion.

The economic significance of the UK science base
Extends previous studies by examining the contribution of the UK science base to our economy at the level of industry, universities and individual researchers. It shows that, in each case, public investment in science and engineering leads to economic growth.

International Skills Research Papers

European youth in 2014 – analytical synthesis
At the 2014 European Youth Event (EYE 2014) organised by the European Parliament on 9-11 May in Strasbourg, thousands of young Europeans will examine, discuss and put forward new ideas on five themes: the fight against youth unemployment, the digital revolution, the future of the EU, sustainable development and European values. Against that backdrop, and in the run-up to the 2014 European elections which will take place between 22 and 25 May next, the European Parliament has carried out an opinion survey among young Europeans aged 16-30 in the 28 EU Member States. The survey addresses the five main themes of EYE 2014 in turn, with the aim of taking stock of the views of young Europeans on these themes.

Euro Plus Monitor Spring 2014 Update
The latest assessment of the eurozone economy — plus Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom — ranked to track the speed with which countries are adjusting to structural challenges and the fundamental strength of their underlying economies.

Employment and Learning Events

(R)Ace Towards a Low Carbon Business Future
4 June 2014, Greenbridge incubator, Wetenschapspark 1, B-8400 Ostend

04/06/2014 – Six Belgian, French and English project partners have worked together for almost three years to help businesses, business clusters and business parks in their transition to a low carbon economy. On the 4th of June 2014, we will share with you concrete tips and ideas for saving energy within your company and reducing your carbon emissions. The conference is a free event, but registration is necessary. The seminar will be held in Dutch and English, with French and English translation.

An event organised by Fair Play South West – the Women’s Equality Network
6 June, 2014, Innovation Centre, University of Exeter, 10:00 – 15:30

06/06/2014 – Fair Play South West is pleased to present the “Women’s Manifesto” which was launched at our 2013 AGM last June. It is based on what women and women’s organisations in the South West tell us are the key policy imperatives to ensure progress towards women’s equality – in the economy, in power, in safety and in health. There will be workshops and opportunities for input from delegates, both to support the content of the manifesto and for discussion on how to use it to achieve real change for women. Lunch provided.

Celebrating 10 Years of Inclusion Cornwall
20 May 2014, 09:00 – 13:00, Lighthouse Cinema, Newquay, Cornwall

20/05/2014 – Mr Mark Fisher CBE – Social Justice Director, Department for Work and Pensions Also speakers covering successes of the past 10 years, an Inclusion Play and video’s from our partners and a forward look to the future. Concludes with lunch. RSVP to bwilson@cornwall.gov.uk

Cornwall Wheels to Work Open Day
16 May 2014, 11:00 – 14:00, Unit E3, Formal Business Park, Treswithian, Camborne, TR14 0PY

16/05/2014 – See how W2W can help you get to work if you have transport barriers. Mopeds are available for loan, servicing and repair of mopeds and motorbikes. For more information call Annette on 01209 718888 or email Cornwallw2w@aol.com.

Gloucestershire Echo and Gloucester Citizen Careers Show 2014
17 June 2014, 10:00 – 20:00, Thistle Cheltenham Hotel, Gloucester Road, Cheltenham

17/06/2014 – A new careers fair will give job hunters unrivalled access to the county’s top employers. The Gloucestershire Echo and Gloucester Citizen Careers Show 2014 will take place at The Thistle Cheltenham Hotel in June. The show, which is signing up a range of large and small employers across the county, is backed by the newspapers’ job section Jobs 24/7.

IfL Fellowship Research Programme
17th Oct 2014, Oxford

17/10/2014 – The IfL Fellowship Research Programme is designed to develop individuals’ research and publication skills.

Living and Working in Wiltshire Event 2014
3 July 2014, Tidworth Leisure Centre, Nadder Road, Tidworth, Wiltshire, SP9 7QN

03/07/2014 – The “Living and Working in Wiltshire and Swindon” event will bring local businesses and the military together in Tidworth on 3rd July 2014.

Rural Revitalization
26 June 2014, Bristol University

26/06/2014 – This event will focus on the range of issues that face the future development of rural towns and communities. 120 delegates are expected at the event, together with up to 20 speakers and 20 exhibitors. This will a great opportunity to listen to a range of key speakers on Rural Development and also learn and share good practice.

Unions and the path to war – Tolpuddle Radical History School
17 July to 19 July 2014, Tolpuddle Festival Site

17/07/2014 – Open to all, the history school is a great chance to learn more about radical and trade union history. Running ahead and alongside the annual Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival it offers a chance to learn lessons from the past in beautiful, rural Dorset. There will be plenty of opportunitity for discussion. Visit the Tolpuddle Martyrs website for full programme information.

Welfare reform – creating effective local delivery partnerships
20 December 2014, Prospero House, Borough High Street, London SE1

20/12/2014 – This one day conference will provide an early opportunity to consider the updated Local Support Services Framework and will feature examples of best practice in the planning and delivery of services sharing learning from the Local Authority led pilots as well as drawing on the experience of housing associations, and third sector organisations in the delivery of budgeting support, debt advice, and financial inclusion inititatives, local welfare schemes, and digitial inclusion projects.

HEFCE Annual Meeting 2014
16 October 2014, 09:30-13:00, Royal Society, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AG

16/10/2014 – The meeting offers an opportunity to learn more about current developments, HEFCE’s role and the challenges facing higher education. Booking for the event will open in August.

AoC Sustainability Portfolio Group – 1st annual conference
8 July 2014, Think Low Carbon Centre, Barnsley

08/07/2014 – The conference, entitled; Sustainability, Employment, Education and the Role of Colleges, will showcase best practice from around the regions of England on colleges’ success in engaging learners in the importance of Sustainable Skills for Employability. It will also highlight the successful career paths provided by sustainability and environmental skills. The venue for the event is the Think Low Carbon Centre, Barnsley College. We have chosen the venue to demonstrate the technology and techniques needed to make a low carbon building as well as highlighting how colleges can lead the way on sustainability. With our partners, Social enterprise organisation, 4 All of Us, we will also be creating a sustainable legacy fund via the conference. This fund will be open to Colleges and groups demonstrating sustainability within further education.

Construction Careers Conference 2014 – South West
22 May 2014, 12:30 – 15:30, Taunton Racecourse

22/05/2014 – Aimed at professionals from the learning and skills and Careers Information Advice and Guidance (CIAG) sectors. It will be a good opportunity to discuss recent developments in CIAG and how this impacts on the construction sector. The conference will bring together school and college leaders, careers practitioners, training providers, awarding bodies and construction employers. The event will provide an insight into the modern construction sector, the challenges and opportunities affecting the industry, latest Labour Market Intelligence and information about CIAG support as well as major forthcoming construction projects in and around the South West of England. To book a place at this conference, please send an e-mail to: karen.blacklaw@citb.co.uk.

Learning at Work Week
19 – 25 May, 2014, Events Nationwide

19/05/2014 – Many companies already run activities for Learning at Work Day over a week, at times that suit them and their employees. The creation of a two month learning festival offers the opportunity to extend Learning at Work Day to a Week focused on special activities that engage and enthuse employees about learning and development in the workplace.

2013 results of the OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS)
How to Best Shape Teacher Policies? Policy lessons from international comparisons.
25-26 June 2014, Tokyo, Japan

25/06/2014 – With the theme “How to Best Shape Teacher Policies? Policy lessons from international comparisons and guidance for education and schools in the future”, this Seminar aims to provide an opportunity to exchange views on how to best shape teacher policy so as to have the strongest impact on the quality of the learning environment.

TUC Congress 2014
7-10 September 2014, BT Convention Centre, Kings Dock, Liverpool L3 4FP

07/09/2014 – Visitor application forms will be available from May.

IntoWork Convention 2014
8-9 July 2014, Arena Convention Centre, Liverpool

08/07/2014 – In 2014 it will be called the IntoWork Convention and will be for everyone involved in helping people find work, keep work and progress in work. The IntoWork Convention will be larger and more interactive showcasing ‘what works’ in employment, skills, health and for disadvantaged people.