This week the headlines focus on changes in government, graduates; applications and vacancies, the Regional Growth Fund and regional impact. A recent South West Skills Newsletter reported on Local Growth Deals and the impact of the recent Government reshuffle on the skills, employment and growth agenda.

The latest Government reshuffle saw Nicky Morgan replacing Michael Gove as Education Secretary and Nick Boles appointed as Minister of State at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Education. NIACE welcomed the appointment: “We are pleased that he will retain briefs in both the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Education. This will lead to closer working relationships between the two departments, something we have called for in our manifesto”, said Tom Stannard, Deputy Chief Executive. Greg Clark could prove important for the Witty agenda as he retains his job as Minister for the Constitution and Cities and has been given additional responsibilities as Minister for Science and Universities.

A recent survey suggests graduate-level job vacancies have returned to their pre-recession high in the UK, growing by 17 percent in the past year but many employers are struggling to fill skilled posts, which is unsurprising as for university applications are up by just 4 percent on last year, with 659,030 submitted by the end of June, according to the admissions service Ucas.

The University of Exeter is working with local schools to explore issues around teacher retention. Teacher drop-out in the first few years of teaching is higher in the UK than almost any other country. The project aims to develop a new course for school managers to help them build more inclusive school environments, and has already been working with five Devon schools to identify the reasons for teacher drop-out. In particular the University is researching methods of peer support between teacher generations. The new material will be trialled in 2015. The project is led by the award winning Graduate School of Education at the University of Exeter. Visit the project webpage.

Marchmont is nearing the end of a three-year international research project, which has identified the skills needed both to operate in, and to coach, high-performance teams. The final phase of this work has seen the University collaborating with Business West to test innovative new tools for competence assessment and training materials to build these competencies. The new coach and team competency tools will be available for use in 2015. Visit the project webpage. For more information about either of these projects, email Dr Andrew Dean or call 01392 264950.

…and finally, congratulations to our Director, Chris Evans, who is now also the Head of the Regional Impact Team at the University of Exeter. Chris has had significant experience consulting on the employment and skills aspects of a number of Strategic Economic Plans in the region. Chris has also overseen team collaborations on international projects relating to Higher Education impact including the EU Skills Panorama ‘Achieving Regional and Local Impact’ (ARLI) and DESCRIBE, which seeks to establish a more nuanced appreciation of the impact of Higher Education research.

I hope you find this information useful.



National Headlines

Bridging the divide between academic and vocational education
By linking the education system more closely to the world of work, we’re aiming to ensure all young people have the chance to fulfil their potential.

Industry and academia engagement day
An engagement day is being held to help shape how the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory contracts for analysis in the future.

University applications in UK up 4 percent
Education administrators hail ‘excellent news’.

Graduate jobs in the UK ‘grow 17 percent’
A survey suggests graduate jobs in the UK have recovered but many employers are struggling to fill skilled posts.

Major HEFCE study shows UK university students have become more satisfied over time
The first large-scale analysis of the National Student Survey (NSS) looks at trends in the responses of more than 2 million final-year students over nine years. Overall student satisfaction has increased, but there is considerable variation between subjects of study, and between different student characteristics such as ethnicity.

Investing for future success of students – HEFCE response to OFFA report
The Office for Fair Access (OFFA) published a report on 2015-16 access agreements today.

Report reveals positive impact of HEFCE funding on student success
A report published today by HEFCE and OFFA shows that in 2012-13 universities and colleges in England significantly increased their investment in measures to widen access and improve success among students from low income and other under-represented groups.

UCU calls for an end to zero-hours contracts at meeting with industry leaders
UCU today re-emphasised its opposition to zero-hours contracts at an industry briefing on atypical and zero-hours contracts hosted by conciliation experts Acas.

International Research on Teacher Retention – RETAIN Project
The University of Exeter is working with local schools to explore issues around teacher retention.

Inter-institutional agreement for mobility of students and staff with partner countries now available
As from the second Erasmus+ call (planned publication: September 2014), student and staff mobility in higher education will be possible not only within Europe, but also with partner countries from the rest of the world.

International Research Project on Competencies and Talents – ComTal
The University of Exeter’s Marchmont Observatory is nearing the end of a three-year international research project, which has identified the skills needed to operate in a high-performance team.

UCU responds to cabinet reshuffle
UCU today welcomed the new further and higher education ministers and said it was looking forward to discussing the important issues that face them in their new roles.

Universities woo poorer students with mentoring not cash
Fewer universities in England will offer bursaries to students, diverting their access money to outreach and employability.


Higher Education Research Publications

Performance indicators in higher education in the UK 2012 to 2013 – second tranche
Data on employment and further study outcomes of graduates at UK higher education institutions.

Higher education – destinations of UK and other EU domiciled leavers from HE 2012 to 2013
Details of the destinations of UK and other EU domiciled leavers from higher education.

Climbing the ladder – skills for a sustainable recovery
A new report published today highlights the need for urgent action to improve the UK’s jobs and skills to build on the economic upturn and maximise growth.

Conditions of flexibility – securing a more responsive higher education system
The culmination of the Flexible Pedagogies: preparing for the future series of reports which have considered flexible learning from a range of perspectives. Proposes fifteen conditions of flexibility to inject new thinking and new practices into an emerging new age. Flexible provision has the potential to enhance student learning, widen opportunities for participation in higher education, and develop graduates who are well-equipped to contribute to a fast-changing world.

The Graduate Market in 2014

Finds two thirds of employers now provide paid vacation internships for penultimate year students; three-fifths offer industrial placements for undergraduates, and increasing numbers of employers offer work experience places for first year undergraduates.

Small employer recruitment practices
This qualitative research looks at how small and medium-sized employers select candidates for employment.

Growth dashboard
The growth dashboard summarises important facts and figures on UK growth and industrial policy.


International Research Publications

TTIP and the Fifty States – Jobs and Growth from Coast to Coast
Reports on the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and its potential impact on the 50 states and 14 key sectors.

Social and employment policy – review of the balance of competences
Examines the balance of competences between the United Kingdom and the European Union in the area of social and employment policy.

Work-based learning handbook
The European Training Foundation (EFT) has developed a handbook to help policy makers and social partners understand some of the ways in which learning in the workplace can be encouraged and how its quality can be improved in ETF partner countries.

Do business tendency surveys help in forecasting employment? A real-time evidence for Switzerland
Investigates the usefulness of business tendency surveys collected at the KOF Swiss Economic Institute and aggregated in the form of the KOF Employment Indicator for short-term forecasting of employment in Switzerland.

The Contribution of Regions to Aggregate Growth in the OECD
Investigates the contribution of regions to aggregate growth in the OECD, finding a great degree of heterogeneity in the performance of OECD TL3 regions and among the OECD regional typology (urban, intermediate and rural).



OECD LEED Programme Expert Seminar – What works, and what doesn’t? Evidence-based approaches to tackling disadvantage
October 2014, OECD Conference Centre, Paris

15/10/2014 – This expert seminar will focus on how countries can establish a policy framework to enable effective local action using an evidence-based approach, choosing between different measures at a time of limited resources. The latest evidence from OECD countries on ‘what works’ and ‘what doesn’t’ will be considered, with participants sharing their own experiences of what has been successful on the ground.

OECD LEED programme High-Level Capacity Building Seminar – Supporting youth in entrepreneurship
22-23 September 2014, Brussels, Belgium

22/09/2014 – The aim of this High-Level Capacity Building Seminar is have an international exchange of information on inclusive entrepreneurship actions across the European Union and on how the European Union Structural Funds can be used to support actions that combine entrepreneurship promotion and social inclusion. It will examine the how strategies for youth entrepreneurship can be designed and implemented including consideration of the connections with wider strategies for entrepreneurship and youth employment.

Does working-class education have a future?
2 August 2014, 11:00 – 16:00, GWRSA/Railway Club, Wellington Rd, Bridgwater, TA6 5HA

02/08/2014 – The last few generations have seen, overall, both a crisis and decline in the general field of what used to be called working-class education. Despite substantial government Union Learn funding, now of course under severe pressure, and some impressive internal trade union shop steward programmes, the subsidised and ‘liberal’ ‘adult education sector where many of us learned the theory and practice of socialism has almost disappeared. This conference is a ground-breaking attempt to address this crisis, asking these questions amongst many others: would the internet have destroyed adult ‘liberal’ education without any government cuts? Do any trade unions educate their members for socialism or merely effective trades unionism? Can a volunteer/community-led strategy restore cuts to Union Learn and adult evening courses? Cost is £5 per person which includes buffet lunch. Places are limited: please register in advance if possible, make cheques out to “Bridgwater Trades Union Council” and send to Dave Chapple, Conference Organiser, 1 Blake Place, Bridgwater, Somerset, TA6 5AU. Further details phone 07707 869 144 or e-mail Dave Chapple

Skills, Employment and Growth Conference 2014 30th September, 2014, University of Salford
30/09/2014 – This one day conference will provide delegates a timely opportunity to debate whether Government proposals to reform skills and employment programmes will benefit learners, engage more employers and get more people back to work. This important conference will bring together key players from across the employment and skills spectrum, and with its unparalleled networking opportunities and key speakers, this event is one not be missed. Contact Elanor e.leach@salford.ac.uk

The Skills Show Experience – Have a Go Exeter
22 October 2014, WestPoint Centre (Devon) Ltd, Clyst St Mary, Exeter, EX5 1DH

22/10/2014 – The SW Employment and Skills Partnership and partners are very excited to formally invite you to The Skills Show Experience Exeter 2014! The Employment and Skills Partnership are organising an event in Exeter in partnership with Devon County Council on 22nd October. We are currently working on a steering group in conjunction with Devon County Council, Careers South West and others regarding this World Skills UK Exeter event, and would be delighted if you could please complete the booking form and register your interest via the following link http://tsse-findafuture-devon.eventbrite.co.uk.

Skills for Life Maths and English Conference
19 September 2014, Swindon

19/09/2014 – Targeted at Skills for Life delivery tutors and managers. The aim of the event is to provide participants with a range of tools, resources and best practice which they will be able to take back to their own organisations. Much of the day will be interactive so participants will be expected to do some work! Contact Julia Falaki for further details.

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.

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.

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.

Next steps for the Research Excellence Framework
23 April 2015, central London

23/04/2015 – David Sweeney, Director, HEFCE will be speaking at this seminar, which is scheduled to follow publication of this year’s Research Excellence Framework (REF), the system by which the quality of research from UK HEIs is assessed – with significant implications for public funding for universities’ research, for benchmarking, and for academic reputation.

Improving financial stability and efficiency in Higher Education – sustainability, alternative revenue streams and lean ways of working
19 November 2014, central London

19/11/2014 – Steve Egan, Deputy Chief Executive, HEFCE, will be speaking at this event, which will bring out latest thinking on making the Higher Education sector more efficient, and to increase financial stability at a time of considerable changes to university funding – focusing on options and implementation.