Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Do It Yourself

After the televised debate last night between the would-be chancellors in the next parliament it is clear that all parties are committed to cutting public expenditure. The current rate of government spending is, after all, unsustainable. Whether they are reluctant to publish detailed plans for fear of losing votes amongst those who will inevitably lose their jobs or whether, as we suspect, they simply don't know where they can save the vast sums needed to balance the books, none of the parties is giving us much detail as to where those cuts will fall.
One unfortunate area of public spending, however, already knows that its budget has been slashed, the further education sector. Long considered to be the 'Cinderella' of the education system, the further education colleges are expecting a £200 million cut this year. We are inclined to agree with the Assistant Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, Julian Gravatt, who says, "We are calling on the Chancellor to help protect these courses and the students they serve. We know that the Treasury is under significant pressure to further curtail public spending but cutting courses that are so essential to our recovery is a false economy." We are not hopeful that the cuts will be reversed, though.
The remedy according to the Department for Business Innovation and Skills is to 'cut funding to lower priority courses' and 'to aim for the largest simplification of the skills landscape for many years'. That way, apparently, colleges will be able to deliver more worthwhile training for less money. In the process the DBIS is hoping that more vocational training will be paid for by the students themselves and their employers. It is easy to see how this might be more efficient but we cannot imagine that it will lead to more skills training.
For most adults what the government is effectively saying is that you should 'do it yourself' when it comes to training for work. Perhaps this is a reflection of the fact that there are good courses available from training providers such as the Accounting & Bookkeeping College like our course for the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers' Certificate.

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