For the first time, the majority of young women in England are going to university. Statistics show that in 2008-09, 51 per cent of women aged 17 to 30 were attending or had attended university, compared to 40 per cent of men. Overall, the figures show 45 per cent of young people going to university.
Deep public spending cuts would lead to heavy job losses for women and substantially reduce their income in retirement, according to a report from the TUC. The report warns that public spending cuts would hit female employ- ment, as around four in 10 women work in the public sector, compared to less than two in 10 men.
Universities are being urged to resolve student complaints within three months as part of a new charter on their proced- ures. The proposals, drawn up by the National Union of Students, call for universities that seek legal advice about a complaint to make the same support available to the student, and for universities to do more to make students aware of complaints procedure.
The 157 Group has published a set of case studies highlighting successful approaches to embedding equality and diversity in six of its member colleges. The six case studies are available to download at: http://www.157group.co
The government has set up a £2.5 million scholarship fund to attract the world’s best research students to the UK. A total of 100 postgraduate researchers will receive Newton Scholarships worth up to £25,000 each, which will be administered by the research councils.
6 ADULTS LEARNING APRIL 2010
Implementing the new careers service ADVICE AND GUIDANCE
If the best things come to those who wait, we can have high expectations of the new adult advancement and careers service, writes Helen Plant. Fuelling Potential, the implementation plan for the new service and skills accounts, was published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills on 17 March, confirming that the service will be operational by August 2010.
This will be the culmination of a reform process that began with the launch of the national review of adult information, advice and guidance services in England in 2005. The aim is to create a coherent service that can provide personalised support to all adults, and which connects advice on learning and work to wider advice services. In the coming months it will be vital not to lose momentum towards full implementation, not least because the effects of the recession mean that more adults than ever are in need of high-quality information and advice on learning, work and other issues. The adult advancement and careers service will be delivered online, by telephone and face- to-face under a single brand. It will replace services currently provided by nextstep and the Careers Advice Service (formerly learndirect). All adults aged 19 and over, and Jobcentre Plus (JCP) clients over 18, will be eligible to use the service. A range of resources to support individual skills and career development will be freely available online. However, intensive one-to-one support will be targeted at national priority groups, currently defined as: adults without Level 2 qualifications, adults aged 19-24 without Level 3 qualifications, people experiencing redundancy or at a distance from the labour market, JCP customers, people from ethnic minority communities, older people, carers, offenders and ex-offenders, and adults with learning difficulties and disabilities. Locally, advice services for learning and work will be
linked to community-based support services, on wider issues such as health, housing, finance and disability, in ‘advancement networks’. As implementation progresses, there must be a sustained focus on realising the core principles of a coherent, universal, inclusive, personalised, expert and impartial service. Quite rightly, the plans seek to ensure that the needs of key target groups are met. But this should not be at the expense of designing a service that is accessible and relevant to all adults. One consequence of the recession has been to focus the attention of information and advice services on supporting adults who are out of work and particularly those who are recently redundant. The new service will also need to engage with adults who are in work and wish to progress, and those who are outside the labour market. Similarly, the close links that are envisaged between the adult advancement and careers service and JCP risk it becoming identified in the public mind as a service for benefit claimants. This would damage both the credibility of the service and the intention to create a service with universal reach.
And there are areas where the plans remain
sketchy. The importance of careers information and advice embedded in learning and other services is not fully recognised. Neither is the important role of tutors, teachers, trainers, frontline staff, para-professionals, such as union learning reps, and volunteers, including community learning champions, in the provision of careers information and advice to adults. The proposals around local advancement networks look particularly vulnerable to cuts in public spending, and there needs to be a more definite commitment, including indications of what support will be available to local authorities to lead the establishment of these networks. We look forward to further clarification in these areas.
Helen Plant is Senior Project Officer, NIACE
Download Fuelling Potential: a blueprint for skills accounts and the adult advancement and careers service from: http://www.bis.gov.uk/policies/further-education-skills/skills-audit/
Low-earning, hard-working households have been the worst hit by the recession, according to two reports by low-earners think tank, the Resolution Foundation. The reports – Low earners audit update and Behind the balance sheet – show that low earners have struggled more in the recession because of their ‘exposed and overlooked position’ compared to both benefit-dependent groups and higher earners. Low earners are more likely to have experienced a drop in income than other groups, the think tank says. This was most pronounced among the 25-34 age group where
66 per cent reported a fall in income compared to 50 per cent in the benefit-dependent group and 33 per cent among the higher-earning group.
The proportion of low-earners citing a loss of income due to reduced working hours as a factor in difficulty meeting payments more than doubled, from three per cent in 2008 to seven per cent in 2009.
Low earners also experienced higher levels of personal inflation than higher earners – 41 per cent of their income is spent on essential items (such as food and fuel) versus only 27 per cent among higher earners.
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