Education Round-Up - Jobs Growth, Manufacturing, Plugging the Utilities Skills Gap, Employer Engagement, the Growth of Home Working and Eurobarometer for Skills and Qualifications 20140627

Last week’s Higher Education policy blog reported on Universities Week, maximising opportunities using student population statistics, student volumes; graduate recruitment & employability and the Guardian University League table 2015. This week, the headlines focus on the Regional Growth Fund, jobs growth, manufacturing, plugging the utilities skills gap, employer engagement, the growth of home working and a new Eurobarometer for Skills and Qualifications.

Unemployment in the South West has decreased by 26,000 in the quarter to April, official figures revealed earlier this month.  According to a survey by recruitment firm Manpower, Bristol is driving much of the employment growth in the region.  Chinese telecoms giant Huawei is to open a new £125m research and development centre in Bristol. Indeed,job prospects are broadly thought to be on the rise, with prospects in Devon, Cornwall and the Westcountry being the best in the UK. The South West topped a league table of home workers, new figures from the Office for National Statistics have shown. Superfast broadband in rural parts of Devon and Cornwall is leading to rising numbers of urban dwellers choosing to relocate and seek self-employment in the countryside. Across 2013 as a whole, the South West region saw the highest home working rate, at 17 percent, compared with 13.9 percent nationally. Home workers tend to be self-employed, older and earn more than the rest of the population. Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, said the figure could be even higher if management gave workers more freedom. Emma Jones, founder of small business network Enterprise Nation, who wrote the book Spare Room StartUp in 2008, said: “these people are not starting up out of necessity through lack of jobs, they are responding to new opportunities that technology brings and this will only increase as the number of satisfying, well-paid jobs begins to decline.”

South West businesses can bid for a share of £200 million, the Deputy Prime Minister announced this week, as he launched round six of the Regional Growth Fund (RGF). The Minister spoke about British manufacturing and regional growth at the BIS Manufacturing Summit, part of the International Festival of Business in Liverpool.  Ministers set out the work the government is doing in partnership with business to help manufacturing strengthen the economic recovery. This includes the Automotive Investment Organisation – a new government funded body to attract inward investment to the UK – which smashed its targets in its first year and a £4 million boost for UK management skills. Although the manufacturing sector is expected to continue to decrease in size over the next decade, advanced manufacturing is expected to grow significantly, with the global market expected to double in size up to 2020, according to the EU Skills Panorama. Demand for UK-made goods rose strongly in June, the latest CBI Industrial Trends Survey showed. The Manufacturing Advisory Service has also released the Manufacturing Barometer Bulletin, which coincided with the UK’s first National Women in Engineering Day, held this week. “Girls can’t what?” was the question posed on the day, to which the answer from the organisers was never going to be “weld”! The National Apprenticeship Service took the opportunity to recognise the success of engineering apprenticeships and the benefits they bring to employers and individuals. Budding scientists from across the South West region experienced their very own ‘Big Bang’ moment at a special science and engineering fair hosted by the University of Exeter on Thursday.

Utilities company South West Water has joined a new Government and employer partnership to help strengthen the UK’s energy and utility workforce. South West Water chief executive Chris Loughlin said the Exeter-based company was already working closely with young people and had helped develop South Devon’s new University Technical College, which will specialise in engineering, water and the environment for 14-18 year olds.

Lord Livingston’s visit to Wiltshire on 2nd June encouraged exporters in the South West of England to grow their international customer base overseas. The South West is outperforming most other UK regions for attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) in a highly-competitive market, according to recent research.

Educators and employers have called for a more integrated approach to help schools and colleges prepare young people for work during a 90-minute forum, which kicked off with each panel member offering their views on the employability of graduates and school leavers in the South West. Representatives of industry identified new recruits’ lack of practical skills and basic understanding of the workplace as their biggest concerns.

A new Eurobarometer survey on the ‘European Area of Skills and Qualifications‘ shows that around a quarter (23%) of EU citizens feel that their education or training has not provided them with the skills to find a job in line with their qualifications.

I hope you find this information useful.



National Headlines

The Top 50 Jobs of the Future
Those of us who began life with plans of becoming a jet-pack-powered officer in the space police know that predicting future employment trends is a risky business.

Universities drive growth across the UK
British universities have long been world leaders in research and teaching and the last decade has seen them rise to the challenges and opportunities of the knowledge economy.

UK universities lead the world in research
The UK has the most efficient and effective research base in the world, punching well above its weight.

UCU raises concerns at governments proposal to widen student loan system in further education to 19-23 year olds
UCU recently raised concerns about the government’s latest consultation which proposes to expand the scope of loans in further education.

UCU calls for greater support in getting people qualified for work
UCU has said that more needs to be done to ensure that everyone has the chance to gain qualifications in order to improve their employment prospects.

Britain needs a skills rise
Speech by Matthew Hancock to the Unionlearn annual conference.

REC urges HR to reconnect with company ‘alumni’ to access skills
HR should engage with their organisation’s ‘alumni’ on a long-term basis to maximise access to talented former staff, said Kevin Green, chief executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC).

Lowest rate of young people NEET for 20 years
New stats show more 16- to 18-year-olds in education, employment or training since comparable records began.

Equality and diversity projects share findings at free events
The first of three dissemination events looking at the impact of the Equality and Diversity Innovation Fund is taking place at the Cruddas Park shopping centre in Newcastle-upon-Tyne tomorrow.

Government crackdown on zero hours contract abusers
Business Secretary Vince Cable announces plans to ban exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts.

TUC – zero-hours workers need greater protection
Preventing employers from insisting that their zero-hours staff are only allowed to work for them will be good news for some employees, but the government needs to go much further if the widespread abuse of these kind of contracts is to be stamped out, says the TUC today (Wednesday).

Current apprentice wage too complicated, says Cable
The government has called for a simplified process for paying apprentices the minimum wage in its revised remit for the Low Pay Commission (LPC).

Employment report shows lower skilled workers face increasing difficulties to find a job
Low qualified workers encounter increasing difficulties to find a job, face lower job stability and are out-competed by medium-skilled workers even in elementary occupations. In contrast, job opportunities are growing in some high-skilled professions.

Movement to Work – work experience in the Civil Service for unemployed young people
The Civil Service offers work experience opportunities to unemployed young people aged 18 to 24 as part of Movement to Work.

CBI / Grant Thornton UK / LLP – medium-sized businesses get a raw deal from UK tax system
The medium-sized business (MSB) segment is already thriving and a key contributor to the UK economy. It also has the potential to further drive business growth and job creation but they are being held back by the UK tax system, a new CBI / Grant Thornton report reveals.

Unions prepare for ‘biggest strike’ under coalition
Some of the country’s largest unions, Unison, GMB and Unite will ballot council employees in England and Wales this week, amid growing anger over pay restraint in the public sector.

CEDEFOP – Analytical Highlights – short papers for policy makers and professionals
The Analytical highlights is a series of short papers published on the EU Skills Panorama website.

When the UK goes ‘digital by default’, who will be left behind?
UK government services are going digital, yet often the people who need them most are not able to access them. Elizabeth Rust reports on the 17 percent who are digitally excluded.

TUC’s Carl Roper – Ignoring unions is not a strategic approach
I’m sure mine weren’t the only eyebrows to be raised by Chris Syder’s article ‘Taking a strategic approach to union recognition’ on HR-inform and published on the People Management website.

Turkey latest country to join Erasmus+
The Republic of Turkey officially informed the European Commission that its internal legal requirements for the entry into force of the Erasmus+ Agreement had been fulfilled, in accordance with Article 5 of the said Agreement.

TUC – Job prospects for youngsters outside full-time education are deteriorating rapidly
Young people not in full-time education are now less likely to be in work than people of other ages and their prospects are declining, despite the recent recovery in the jobs market, the TUC warned on Sunday ahead of a new report on full employment to be published today.

Sickness benefit failing to get disabled into work
But, Grace Lewis asks, can we really keep blaming the government for the UK’s disability unemployment gap?

National Literacy Trust – 25 organisations launch landmark bid to end education inequality
The National Literacy Trust are proud to be part of The Fair Education Alliance – a coalition committed to closing the achievement gap between young people from our poorest communities and their wealthier peers.

Matthew Hancock speaks about reforms to vocational education
Matthew Hancock, Skills Minister, speaks to the Sunday Times Festival of Education about vocational education.

Secondary schools can opt in to progress 8 measures in 2015
Mainstream maintained schools, academies and free schools can now choose to adopt the new performance measures a year early in 2015.

AoC response to Labour Party plans for a new youth allowance
At the launch of the IPPR’s latest report on the condition of Britain, the Labour Leader Ed Miliband officially announced his party’s plan to replace Job Seeker’s Allowance with a new youth allowance for 18 to 21-year-olds.

Labour unveils benefits reform to incentivise training for young people
Young unemployed people could have their benefits stopped if they do not attend training to increase their chances of getting a job, under new Labour proposals for welfare reform.

Main parties endorse NIACE manifesto
Politicians from the three main Westminster parties have endorsed NIACE’s vision of how a skills-led recovery will ensure prosperity for all.

Around 300,000 people escape long-term unemployment thanks to the Work Programme
About 300,000 long-term unemployed people have found lasting work using the Work Programme – an increase of 44,000 people in jobs in the last 3 months.

AoC responds to Lord Young’s report on enterprise in education
“We’re pleased to see that some of the excellent practice in colleges is highlighted and recognised and that a number of the recommendations span all education sectors.” – Teresa Frith, Senior Skills Policy Manager at the Association of Colleges

Nearly 9 million full time workers want to work flexibly, research suggests
Nearly two in every five full time employees want to work part time or remotely right now, according to research from recruitment firm Timewise.

Education and training is not up to the job, say quarter of Europeans in survey
A new Eurobarometer survey on the ‘European Area of Skills and Qualifications’ (Special Eurobarometer 417) shows also that around a quarter (23%) of EU citizens feel that their education or training has not provided them with the skills to find a job in line with their qualifications.

Postdoc diaries – academic jobs are scarce but we’re optimistic
For six months, we’ve followed PhD graduates Mel and Dean in their hunt for a job. The final instalment sees them feeling positive about the future

Government outlines how technology can benefit further education
Matthew Hancock has announced government plans to boost technology in order to improve further education.

Institute for Learning comments on government’s response to Feltag recommendations
The Institute for Learning (IfL) has commented on the government’s response to the recommendations of the Further Education Learning Technology Action Group (Feltag).

Tech Awards to boost vocational education for 14- to 16-year-olds
The government announces rigorous technical qualifications that can be studied for alongside GCSEs.

New Tech Awards should raise the profile and status of vocational education
The Association of Colleges response to the Department for Education’s announcement about the introduction of new Technical Awards and vocational education for 14 to 19-year-olds.

EEF finds sickness absence in manufacturing sector at record low
The number of working days lost to sickness absence has reached a record low of 2.1 per cent among manufacturing employers, which is equivalent to 4.9 days per employee, per year, EEF figures have shown.

DWP emphasises ‘fuller working lives’ in revisiting Extending Working Lives strategy
The Department for Work and Pensions has published the Government’s new action plan on how they intend to help people have fuller working lives.

Cuts may undermine work incentives in universal credit
A cross-party review of Universal Credit (UC) is being launched amid new evidence that funding for the project has been cut so severely that its original aim to provide incentives for people to get into work could be undermined.

Work Programme ‘failing those most in need and should be broken up’
The Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR), have proposed that the £1.2bn Work Programme, the government’s flagship welfare to work scheme, needs to be broken up in the face of figures showing that as little as 5 per cent of unemployed people on the main disability benefit are finding a job through it.

TUC welcomes new simpler minimum wage rules
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady comments on the government’s new minimum wage remit for the Low Pay Commission published yesterday (Wednesday).

National Literacy Trust partners RM Books to study Impact of eBooks
Yesterday the National Literacy Trust and RM Books embarked on a joint study over 16 months and across 100 schools to explore eBooks’ impact on student’s reading motivation and reading attainment.

TUC – Qualifications becoming essential to find any job, not just well-paid ones
Figures published yesterday (Wednesday) by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which found that the unemployment rate for men (12.9 per cent) and women (10.8 per cent) with no qualifications was more than twice that of people with at least one qualification (5.2 per cent for men, 4.3 per cent for women).

Successful investment in carbon reduction with more to come
Following an evaluation of the first three rounds of the HEFCE Revolving Green Fund, which confirmed the effectiveness of the scheme, a further £34 million will be invested.

UKCES unveils funding to tackle UK’s poor management problem
Employers can apply for a share of a £4 million fund to develop new methods to improve the skills of management in their sector, it has been announced.

Government launches action plan to maximise potential of older workers
As people in the UK live longer, the government has launched an action plan to help employers make the most of older workers’ potential.

Helping business to wake up to older workers’ untapped potential
Minister for Pensions Steve Webb launches a new action plan to help older workers stay in the workplace.

Erasmus+ Delay in issuing grant agreements
Due to a number of technical difficulties some National Agencies may not be in a position to sign grant agreements before the starting dates for the respective Key Actions.

Lib Dem pledge on widening of education budget protection ‘very significant’
Responding to the announcement by the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg about the Liberal Democrat pledge to ringfence the education budget up to the age of 19, Martin Doel, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, said: “We welcome this very significant announcement from the Lib Dems, which reflects AoC lobbying over the last few months.

NIACE’s Mid-life Career Review part of new Government strategy
The Government will be incorporating lessons learned from NIACE’s Mid-life Career Review Pilots and integrate the ‘50+ delivery model’ into existing partner practice, to ensure older workers can access an in-depth career review for the first time.

TUC – Tribunal fees are stopping wronged workers from seeking justice
Employers who bully, harass or cheat their workers out of their wages are increasingly likely to escape punishment as people wronged at work are prevented from seeking justice by the high cost of taking a tribunal case, says the TUC.

Taking a strategic approach to union recognition
Private sector trade union membership globally has begun to creep up, as trade unions look to offset job losses in the public sector.


South West Headlines

Round Six of Regional Growth Fund Launched
South West businesses can bid for a share of £200 million, the Deputy Prime Minister announced yesterday, as he launched round six of the Regional Growth Fund (RGF).

£400,000 awarded to LEP’s creative employment bid makes it the largest programme in the UK
The West of England is celebrating becoming the largest group of creative and arts organisations in the UK to deliver a creative employment programme, thanks to a second successful bid to the Creative Employment Programme grant scheme.

Support package to kick-start Hinkley plans – HotSW LEP
The government’s confirmation of a Hinkley Point C support package will help kick-start plans to exploit the construction phase of the nuclear power plant development, according to the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (HotSW LEP).

Hinkley Programme agreed with Government to boost local economy
The Government’s confirmation of a ‘Hinkley Programme for 2014/15’ to stimulate economic growth in the area by preparing for the opportunities that will arise from the construction of the Hinkley power station, has been warmly welcomed by the Heart of the South West (HotSW) Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), which recently agreed the package of support with Whitehall.

Six-figure grant to support creative careers
A project to help young people across the South West embark on careers in the creative industries has received a six-figure funding boost.

Zero Carbon Hub and Training Centre receives support from West of England Growth fund
Renewable energy specialists Solarsense have been awarded a grant of £59,000 from the West of England Growth Fund to support the development of a Zero Carbon Hub and Training Centre.

Solent LEP seeking potential Solent sites for National Large Structures Composites Centre
Following the publication of the Stevens’ Report ‘Transforming Solent’, the National Composites Centre, working with the University of Southampton and University of Bristol, have been tasked by the Department of Business Innovation & Skills to undertake a feasibility study for a Solent Large Structures Composites Centre.

GFirst LEP flying high for Gloucestershire
Today, at their biggest Annual Review yet, Dr Diane Savory OBE, Chair of Gfirst LEP and David Owen, Chief Executive, address over 250 business leaders with an overview of record achievements in the last twelve months and plans for strengthening the Gloucestershire economy by £0.5bn with the creation of 34,000 new jobs and 5,000 apprenticeships.

Gfirst – Top up your engineering skills on brand new course
The University of Gloucestershire has launched a new, employer-led Engineering course.

Swindon and Wiltshire LEP Develops Vision for High Value Manufacturing
A common vision for manufacturing in Swindon and Wiltshire has been set out in a new research report released by the Local Enterprise Partnership.

Labour’s Darren Jones calls on Local Enterprise Partnership to ‘use its muscle’
Labour’s Darren Jones, who is running to the be the Labour MP for Bristol North West at the next General Election, has called on the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to use its muscle in the Avonmouth/Severnside Enterprise Area.

Why STEM? Success Starts With Critical Thinking, Problem-Solving Skills
Our educational system is tasked with preparing the next-generation to succeed in life. That’s a tall order and it will substantially fail if it doesn’t teach children how to think critically and solve problems.

UK business incubator named number one in Europe
SETsquared has been ranked as the top university business incubator in Europe and second best in the world.

Bicton College in merger talks
An agricultural college is discussing plans to merge with a partner after a government report suggested it could not survive by itself.

NHS – 2gether Offers Opportunities for Apprentices
Apprenticeships in Business and Administration are being offered by 2gether NHS Foundation Trust.

Inner-city schools outperforming rural peers, ONS data shows
‘Immigration deficit’ could be one factor in why swaths of Suffolk, Norfolk, Kent and Cornwall lag behind capital in getting above-average exam results.

Government pledges to invest further £200m in high-growth and innovative businesses
Ambitious Swindon and Wiltshire businesses were today urged to bid for a share of a £200m investment pot – the latest phase of the Government’s Regional Growth Fund (RGF).

Young Gloucestershire is delivering a new mentoring programme
Young Gloucestershire are looking for professionals willing to mentor young people who are starting out in the world of work.
As a mentor you will meet with a young person to help them take their next steps by developing pathways into employment, work experience, traineeships or further education.

Employers must become aware of dementia in the workplace
Recent figures suggest there are around 800,000 people in the UK with dementia. People usually associate the condition with later life, but around 17,000 of people with the condition are under the age of 65.

£15 million Craneworks project could support 250 jobs in Bath
They have stood empty for years at the heart of the city but ambitious £15-million plans have emerged to transform the derelict Stothert and Pitt factories.

Employability Is Our Job
Universities, as seats of learning and powerhouses of research, are stepping up to assume a new role.

Cornwall businesses give College’s £250million vision the thumbs up
Business leaders in Cornwall have given a new vision for further education, training and skills development in the Duchy their full support.

Cruise Industry Economic Contribution Passes £2.5 Billion As Bristol Port Sails Ahead
The cruise industry’s contribution to the British economy grew substantially in 2013, as did the number of UK jobs it supports, according to a report released today by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

Gloucestershire councils plan ‘includes job cuts’
Posts will be lost if four councils join forces to provide their services, a deputy leader has confirmed.