From education to employment

Battle Commences on Legislation and the Learning Provider

Batten down the hatches, writes Vijay Pattni for FE News: “The Legislator” is on the rampage again, smelling fresh blood in the air.

The apocalypse is nigh: man will take on machine, or rather the elderly will take on the pension. As revealed in the new government white paper, the retirement age will most likely be increased to 68 to compensate for the problems within the system. The message must be amplified and paraded around: the solution will be the small print with extraneous clauses. So, here goes: pushing up the retirement age means”¦yes, you”ve guessed it ““ we will all have to work longer. Three years, if the recommendations are implemented.


As though dispatching a prison sentence for those with a view to securing their long-awaited retirement, Mr Blair has in essence siphoned hundreds of years of tax money from the electorate in an effort to stave off further pension problems. So what does this mean for our beloved FE sector? Well, according to the latest reports from the Nostradamus committee, the UK should be coming to a complete and utter cataclysmic skills problem of biblical proportions about now; or maybe sometime next week.

If you still haven”t guessed it yet, working longer means keeping your job for three extra years. That means having the skills required to keep that job for the extra three years. That means having some skill to start with, a concept with which, unfortunately, I am not familiar with. But there is hope. Noah has sailed through the skills deficit ocean and anchored at the port of the last chance harbour bearing the fruits of enlightenment: yes, seeded through the “offices” of learndirect, The College @ Aber Valley opened its doors to the Welsh learning fraternity on Tuesday 23rd May, 2006.


learndirect aims to break down barriers to learning and by placing learndirect centres in the hearts of communities, we are making the route to learning more accessible,” stated Jeff Greenidge, Head of learndirect in Wales. Opened together with Sarah Jones, Chief Executive of parent organisation University for Industry (UFI), and building on the successes of the “@” entitled Colleges in Bargoed, Blackwood and Caerphilly, the College @ Aber Valley will “provide IT training for up to 300 learners in a relaxed atmosphere”. Relaxed indeed, considering the pace of technological change as commented on at FE News.

Jeff highlights the important collaboration that has been undertaken with the host, Ystrad Mynach, which has steadily increased its enrolment figures to a dizzying 12,000 (2003), saying: “We have worked successfully with The College Ystrad Mynach for a number of years to deliver learndirect courses to individuals, business and communities and we look forward to seeing more success stories with the opening of the College @ Aber Valley.”

“Aber Valley has been a real success in such a short period of time,” said Centre Supervisor Caroline Connelly. “Many learners have expressed their appreciation for the excellent learning facilities and resources provided by The College Ystrad Mynach.”

So the message is clear then: stay fit; eat healthily; exercise regularly. Read more, listen more. Enjoy the wonders of life; from the flapping of butterfly wings to the drama of an Arctic Monkeys live performance. Most importantly, get a good education and widen your skills base. In case you haven”t figured it out yet, the government is introducing more legislation.

Vijay Pattni

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