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AELP calls for skills and employment coordination

England’s main education, jobs and skills lobby is urging the government to better coordinate skills and employment programmes.

The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP – formerly Association of Learning Providers) says the success of the state’s 2010 Work Programme will depend on matching employers’ needs with jobseekers’ skills and available training.

AELP represents 600 providers, including some 50 Further Education colleges.

Its chairman, Martin Dunford, said: “I do not believe that many of the key officials in their respective departments fully understand that job sustainability will only be achieved if the separate welfare-to-work agenda and the apprentice-centred skills agenda overlap much more.”

The recommendation was one of several the group made at its first annual conference, taking place today and tomorrow in London.

Among other recommendations: tactics to tackle youth unemployment, including ensuring that programmes for youngsters get the same benefits as others; and persuading employers to invest in apprentices.

“The marketing should emphasise why businesses cannot afford not to invest in apprenticeships,” Dunford said, according to an AELP statement.

The group expressed its disappointment, meanwhile, that “the department has not yet recognised that landing a job as a result of Foundation Learning is not officially counted as a positive outcome for a disadvantaged young person.”

Finally, it urged more independent skills and jobs providers to move into higher education.

“We must ensure that the opportunities in the HE market are not artificially, and unnecessarily, closed off by our own behaviour,” said Mr Dunford.

Rachel Millard

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