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    Alan Clarke, sector engagement manager for the Lifelong Learning UK-led Catalyst Programme, has warned of the need to curb a possible skills crisis as a result of the economic downturn.


    The Catalyst Programme, which is funded by the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills, aims to bolster relationships between business and Further Education. Mr Clarke aims to combat the credit crisis by offering learning providers funded opportunities to recruit individuals from business.


    Mr Clarke said: "One of the key things, particularly in an economic downturn, is people are obviously looking for new opportunities, and unfortunately there has been a number of people made redundant recently, and many of them are now starting to look at other sectors.


    "Within the catalyst programme we have a sub-programme, called 'Make a Difference', and we're trying to encourage managers who've got skills, knowledge and competence that they have developed within business to use those skills ... with the aim for them to be leaders in our sector in the future."


    Catalyst intends to introduce a range of recruitment schemes to attract graduate-calibre individuals, managers and vocational and technical experts into the FE sector. The programme will also provide new opportunities for current teachers, tutors and trainers to upgrade their own skills.

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