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The Learning and Skills Council have defended their decision to advertise for vocational providers in the West Midlands, following the University and College Union's (UCU) publicised disappointment.

Further to a story published on FE News on Wednesday, the LSC's Area Director for the Black Country, Andy Brown, clarified their position. In an exclusive statement for FE News, he said: "Currently 43% of the working population of Walsall has no qualification at all and one in ten 16-18 year olds is neither working nor in training or education".

The statement comes as the UCU fear that the LSC advertisement constitutes a "competition" to privatise the FE sector. The Association of Learning Providers yesterday moved to support the proposition, noting that a "mixed market of providers" was working well.

"Against this backdrop, there is a real determination in the borough to provide a broader range of learning for young people coming through the education system over the coming years than has been available historically to break this cycle of education failure experienced by so many", Mr Brown continued.

"The LSC views 16-19 competitions as one of a range of mechanisms by which it carries out its statutory duty to plan for post-16 provision in an area and to address challenges such as these in Walsall. It reflects three key 16-19 measures as set out in the Government's Five Year Strategy for Children and Learners, published in July 2004.

"These are to encourage increased choice and diversity with opportunities for greater autonomy for institutions in serving their local communities. One of these measures included competitions, decided at local level, where substantial new 16-19 provision is needed.

"The LSC, working with key stakeholders in Walsall, is committed to provision that offers a full range of learning opportunities, vocational and academic, at Levels 2 & 3 for 16-18 year olds in the borough so that far more can engage and be successful. No single provider, however, whether a school, college, or work-based learning organisation, can meet the needs of the whole of this client group and that is why a 16-19 Competition was launched in July.

"The "competition" process - which is in fact about encouraging better collaboration between a full range of partner institutions and organisations for the benefit of Walsalls young people "“ will undoubtedly help more young people achieve qualifications and get employment.

"Walsall's is not the first competition of its kind. Since their launch, competition notices have been published in six areas across the country in order to meet a range of needs, including the need for new places and reconfiguration of provision in an area.

"Competitions are open to existing and prospective public and private sector providers. Only one of these competitions to date has come to the end of the process so it is really too early to fully access the implications of this policy".

Vijay Pattni.

Stay with FE News to read unionlearn Director Liz Smith's new column "“ the first Monday of every month starting next week!

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The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

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FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

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We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

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FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

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FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

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The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

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