From education to employment

Liz Smith takes time out to reflect on 2007 and look forward to the year ahead.

“FE news columnist answers our questions.

What has been the most welcome development or announcement affecting FE and WBL in 2007?

The Prime Minister’s announcement at TUC Congress of an additional £3m for Union Learning Fund projects. This means that in 2008 there will be over £15m for union-led projects, which will result in more union members taking courses in colleges or workplaces, supported by FE tutors.

And the least welcome?

The ending of automatic right to free ESOL courses, except for priority groups. This could reduce take up from low paid employees, particularly migrant workers. This could have implications on their working life such as health and safety. The Government has listened to the TUC’s concerns and advised providers to be flexible in determining low pay. But we would like to see stronger measures to encourage employers to contribute to course fees so that low paid workers do not lose out. There is now a need for employers to pay the fees for their employees from the non priority groups.

What would be on your Christmas wish list for FE?

For all employees who do not have a level 3 qualification to be given an entitlement to good free quality provision in colleges, with paid time off to study for a recognised qualification at that level.

What will unionlearn’s new year resolutions be?

For more FE colleges to achieve the unionlearn Quality Award for working with trade unions on learning.

Liz Smith, director, unionlearn

Related Articles