From education to employment

Looking Back on the Week That Was with FE News!

Another week, another thirty or so hairs drifting away on the winds of change. But for those reading who do not look in the mirror and realise that they, like I do, have a second mirror atop their skull, what exactly do the winds of change herald?

It would be simpler, it would appear, to judge what they do not herald rather than what they do, but then again, it can occasionally feel that the public sector as a whole ““ regardless of speciality ““ is too obsessed with accentuating the positive. Observing this can be somewhat akin to the age old dilemma of the glass that someone poked a hole in; half full or half empty?

Or, in the case of the public sector in this “brave new world” of ours, not so much “half full or half empty” as “Half empty? I should be so lucky! And that big bully over there stole my glass anyway! I have been chasing for that glass, that merest dribble of water for decades, I finally sit down with it glistening in front of me and what happens? What happens!!!??? It is taken away from my cracked lips”¦I think it all started when I was six, and I”¦”


But I digress. Let us put it another way. Today, I will be attending a dear friend of mine’s 30th birthday party. And, of course, as such I will do my utmost to avoid any reference to age; after all, we are all gathering to celebrate another successful year, and to look forward to whatever challenges lie ahead. The good thing about this, of course, is that as we are friends I will be able to enjoy this success, to share in his joy at all the achievements and to revel in the fact that he is doing well purely through being there month by month.

Would that the same could be said for Further Education. But perhaps it can be”¦let’s see, shall we? Let us assume that FE as a whole is called”¦hmm”¦Gerald. So, Gerald has a birthday party, for argument’s sake this evening. So Gerald, being the outgoing, gregarious beast that he is, decides to invite everyone out for a huge party, an educational extravaganza; a Further Education Fiesta! The stage is set, and the various players gather together.

The question, as in many a fine newspaper puzzle, is “what happens next?” The truth, of course, is that the party will include certain key elements, which have remained inviolate for many a year. One of these is the “celebration” of peers and elders. Let us assume that Gerald invited his boss; his boss, clutching a bottle of Corona with a lime wedge in his hand, would extol the virtue of Gerald, praise his brilliance in the year, recall a few humorous incidents, and then exit stage left. This would be it. The end. Praise, generous words, and then gone. Most likely, this would be taken as a warning to poor beleaguered Gerald; no matter how hard he has worked and slaved this past year, his salary is staying right where it is!

Not Just for the Faint of Heart

Another feature would be the very event itself. It would be a single night of fun, and the only residue would be the hangover the week after, the bloodshot eyes, and the short fuses that would mark out the people who attended from the people who had a bout of that most convenient of illnesses, the “24 hour flu”. And then, poor Gerald would go back to his cubicle for yet more work, striving and straining to make his desk handle the load dumped upon it by the boss who the night before lauded him to the heavens but today can barely remember his name.

Obviously, this is a very unsubtle attack on the fickle nature of the world today, the public generally and even certain politicians specifically. One example can be found in Adult Learners” Week, just recently finished. This was a festival of celebration for the achievements of possibly the most disregarded and ignored area of education, praising the hard work and effort of so many educators and learners from across the country. But then, the week is over now; sadly it is entirely too likely that the bunting will go straight back into the cupboard and will simply fester until next year.

This is an issue that the media must shoulder a fair share of the blame for, as well. So the gauntlet has been hurled earthwards, for all of us. Let’s make this year different; let’s keep adult learning right on the top of the agenda. I”ll do my best to keep up my end; how about you?

Jethro Marsh

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