Following the release of the Learning and Skills Council's (LSC) annual statement of priorities, entitled "Raising Our Game", the FE industry has lent its comment.
Ellie Russell, NUS Vice-President (Further Education) noted: "NUS warmly welcomes the proposal for more learner involvement in colleges at all levels".
"We lobbied the government hard for increased learner involvement, and were rewarded by seeing the majority of our proposals in the FE white paper. This shows that the recommendations are well on their way to being implemented, which is great news".
"We particularly welcome the "Framework for Excellence" (FfE) quality improvement document, and the 7 Key Performance Indicators that they propose, one of which deals with colleges responsiveness to learners and employers".
"Through this, we expect the use of "learner voice" information, gathered from course representatives, to have a direct influence on course monitoring, review and improvement and be integral to colleges moving from self-assessment to self-regulation".
Looking forward to the 2012 Olympic games, the LSC announced its particular commitment to the "vocational and educational needs of aspiring competitors". In response, the Chief Executive of Sector Skills Development Agency SkillsActive, Stephen Studd, commented: "We are absolutely delighted with the LSC announcement".
"We have been working with the LSC, sportscoachUK, DfES and DCMS to ensure that the development and qualification of employed and volunteer coaches is the forefront of everyone's mind if we are going achieve success on both a sporting and physical health agenda level".
"For the LSC to prioritise the funding for the Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence emphasises their commitment to developing this country's future elite athletes".
"We are absolutely delighted to have this funding dedication to the programme, and now hope to work with all national governing bodies of sport to ensure that AASE is rolled out across all sport in England", he added.
However, concern was raised on the LSC's announcement that it is to abolish free training in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber expressed a widely felt dismay: "Being able to speak English is crucial if people are to be safe and treated well at work. Not only is it essential in terms of knowing how to do your job, workers also need to be able to communicate with their colleagues and understand important health and safety information".
"Many vulnerable workers who don"t yet speak fluent English will be let down by this decision. Workers who have a good command of the English language are also less likely to be treated badly at work. Individuals who don"t speak enough English to understand about the minimum wage and working time rules for example are much more likely to be exploited by bad employers".
"We are worried that limiting access simply to those on benefits and tax credits will cause real problems for vulnerable workers. Applying for benefits requires an understanding of English, but this is exactly what many people living and working in the UK don"t yet have. A fairer way would be to give free language training to anyone who can show they are on a low wage or un-waged rather than making someone prove they are in receipt of benefits".
"If free language courses are to end, then the Government must do more to make employers meet the cost of training their employees. Sensible employers already realise the business benefits of having an English-speaking workforce. Ministers should get tough with bosses who are too mean to run free courses or who will now try to pass the costs onto their workers".
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