From education to employment

Union warns of threat to stability after LSC advertise for extra vocational providers

The University and College Union (UCU) has expressed fears over a “creeping privatisation” process in vocational learning, following the Learning and Skills Council’s advertisement seeking providers in Walsall.

According to the UCU, experienced lecturers also fear that inexperienced new vocational learning providers would simply create division instead of co-operation, disregarding the needs and talents of local teenage students.

The LSC recently published what the UCU perceive to be a tendering competition for 16-19 learning, advertising for providers in the West Midlands. Black Country LSC spokespersons cite the new competition will “provide a better balance of provision to improve choice and to improve participation”.

However, Chris May, UCU West Midlands regional official, commenting on the advertisement, said: “UCU in the West Midlands believes the tendering process will reduce local collaboration between educational institutions and may attract bidders with no experience of the FE sector or vocational training who merely seek to make a fast buck. Its a creeping privatisation”.

And Roger Kline, UCU’s head of equality and employment rights, added: “Many professional teachers in 14-19 education fear that private companies with little or no background in education will lack the vision to challenge this problem. UCU will keep a close watch on whether new providers rigorously apply the governments requirement of curriculum diversity in ways which challenge stereotyping”.

Another UCU concern is that private companies and organisations may fail to properly broaden the horizons of youngsters considering their future, who are often directed towards limited training and employment choices. UCU propose that investment should be ploughed into existing colleges, co-operation and planning, instead of creating what they term as “local rivalry”.

Mr May added: “I am not convinced that extra competition brings anything but disorder and division to a sector that needs stability and co-operation. It would be better to invest in existing education providers and develop strategic, joined-up thinking and closer collaboration between schools, FE Colleges and universities”.

“If a new provider wins this competition, UCU will want to ensure that local colleges are not damaged”.

Vijay Pattni.

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