MPs: Further education 'not working'

12-09-2006

Reforms currently being implemented by the government to improve the nation's further education provision are failing to provide employers with workers whose skills match the job level they require, MPs have claimed.

A report published today by the education and skills select committee severely criticises the government's efforts on further education, with skills training coming under particularly heavy attack.

"The present planning and funding mechanisms for skills training appear incoherent, overcomplex, burdensome, and often act as a barrier to further education's development ratherthan a support to it," the report states.

"Although some reorganisation is in train, we do not have full confidence that the intended outcome - a simplified and proportionate overarching structure for further education - will be achieved."

The report raises a wide range of concerns about the state of the British further education system, many of which are underpinned by a worry that the government is doing too little to help improve colleges and other education providers.

It suggests that the reforms made following a major review of further education by Sir Andrew Foster in 2004 "may not go far enough" in meeting the required level of change and argues that an innate suspicion of root-and-branch reform is inhibiting policymakers from making the radical changes needed.

It claims that adult learning initiatives are "being inadvertently put at risk by current funding priorities" and calls for the establishment of a national learning council.

In order to improve the problems of Britain's further education system, which have long been "beset by a lack of coherent strategic direction and appropriate oversight at the national level", MPs call for "a more coherent planning and funding machinery" which, the report claims, is "essential to the overall development of further education".

The Department for Education and Skills (DoES) said it is preparing a response to the select committee's report.


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