From education to employment

Vijay PattniKicks Off Monday Madness for F

Apparently, writes Vijay Pattni for FE News, some form of sporting tournament is tying up valuable resources on terrestrial television.

Licence fees are not meant for this. They are meant for hyped up, over-budgeted and dodgily scripted dramas shamelessly ripping off much of Shakespeare’s work. Rest assured, I shall be lodging a very strongly worded letter, as we Brits always do, to the Director-General of the BBC. But, as we”re hovering on the cusp of Shakespeare, bear with me for a moment, lest we get carried away in mine argument, for I dare not betray that which is holy and that which doth make merry with FE.

A Sad Tune of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness”¦

Apologies for the shameless wording, but somehow the Bard sprang into mind when considering the recent release from the Department of Education and Skills (DfES). Bill Rammell MP, the Minister for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education, speaking at a one-day event on the 14th June 2006, claimed: “One in four UK jobs are related to international trade and that makes us particularly sensitive to the constantly shifting demands within the global market.”

Really? Had I but known such a plaintful story, to whom I laid down to list the sad-tuned vale”¦Nonetheless, it may not come as a surprise to you that we are currently in the midst of a skills crisis; a crisis of truly global proportions. A crisis in which every professional worth their salt has come out to proclaim: “Hail, good sir, for I bring tidings of which thou hast not heard before.”

In the middle of this crisis, we have a shepherd, leading his trusting flock into pastures new, or so we hope. The Rt. Hon gentlemen has a gargantuan task set before him in transforming the image and application of FE, so we must forgive him his indiscretion of repeating what is essentially the same old gospel. But it is difficult to maintain this when we hear lines such as: “The global dimension is increasingly being seen as an integral part of supporting the up-skilling of our citizens.”

Ne”er a Truer Word Was Spoken”¦

Truth be told, he lies not. Yet there is more for thine ear to behold: “We need to look to the future. If we fail to do so our competitors will not.” Again, not a fallacy he speaks, but it feels as though this debate surrounding skills and globalisation has turned into some kind of meta-policy; whereby the mere mention of it removes the actual process of reform.

Speaking at the event hosted by his department, in association with the Centre for Excellence in Leadership (CEL), the British Council, the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) and other sector agencies, Mr. Rammell reiterated the message and outlined some definitive, marketing language to confound and shock, lest we be wakened to the singing of actual, real-time policy. “It’s vital that we”re flexible and skilled enough to meet or anticipate these shifts. We must meet challenges that have seen world trade doubling every decade.”

He pointed to some of the strategies implemented by the DfES in the aim of “Putting the World into World-Class Education”, and continued: “I would like to see more FE colleges build strong, strategic partnerships with their counterparts overseas. I”m convinced that through greater collaboration the huge potential of FE to fully contribute to the economy and industry can be unlocked ““ locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.”

Awake, FE!

No, dearest reader, wake from thine slumber. There was more, but, to be perfectly honest, it sounded very similar, much as it has done for some time. So now, let us take action into our own hands. Let’s get a petition going. Just as our government pledges an end to this or that, let us pledge the end of repetitive speeches by the end of, well, tomorrow. It can be done, people; revolution is in the air and I feel a new wave of enthusiasm for action.

It’s time to ante up and fight for the cause. Remember, FE is for the people, of the people and by the people. It belongs to the great mass of “us” and we will not surrender. To sign off this call for arms, let us look back on a particularly relevant poem scripted by the great man himself:

“Did not the heavenly rhetoric of thine eye,

“Gainst whom the world could not hold argument,

Persuade my heart to this false perjury?”

Many thanks to William Shakespeare for the use of “A Lover’s Complaint” and “The Passionate Pilgrim.”

Vijay Pattni

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