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Support for colleges and relevant training key to social mobility in tough times, says UCU

13 January 2009

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UCU said today that the government should be commended for its plans to try and improve social mobility through the power of education.

Responding to the government's New Opportunities White Paper, the union said further education colleges needed to be properly supported in their efforts to deliver relevant training to individuals and communities likely to be worst hit by the economic downturn.
 
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'We strongly believe in the power of education to change people's lives and the government should be applauded for putting education at the heart of its drive to improve social mobility. However, it needs to understand that people must have access to the right training for their specific requirements.
 
'One size does not fit all and we need to use the experience of lecturers in further education to develop skills training and programmes that keep people and local communities engaged with learning relevant to them and their needs. Colleges have the experience of dealing with recessions and many are already tailoring courses to respond to patterns of job losses or likely losses in their local areas.
 
'We urge the government to support those efforts and ensure that the different departments with a stake in training – DCSF, DWP and DIUS – are speaking to each other so people out of work or on benefits can take full advantage of the training opportunities available to them without being penalised financially.'
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