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Canada’s House of Commons Offers Defeated MPs up to $15K for Career Help
November 5, 2019
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As a UK General Election date has been announced no doubt some MP’s will lose their seat – and as a result will be looking for a new career. The following explains what support is available to their Canadian colleagues.

When Liberal Mark Holland lost his seat in 2011, he couldn’t get out of bed for days.

“It was absolutely devastating for me … Because it was my hometown, it felt personal. It felt like a personal rejection,” said the Ajax MP, who went on to be re-elected in 2015 and again on Monday.

“It’s like being in a car going 100 kilometres an hour and hitting a brick wall and everything stops.”

He credits the House of Commons’s transition program with helping him move on from his defeat. The program offers counselling and up to $15,000 to help defeated MPs transition from the House of Commons back to the civilian world.

It’s a program the nearly 50 incumbents who lost on Monday can access as they take stock of their defeats.

The taxpayer-funded package can be used to cover the cost of career transition services, job training or post-secondary education and some travel expenses, according to the members’ allowances and services manual.

Holland was first elected at the municipal level at age 23. He said he leaned on the transition program to dust off his resumé and get some retraining before eventually landing a job at the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

“Having a service that helps folks make the transition back to a normal life — helps them get their resumé in shape, makes sure that their mental health is in a strong position and that they have the support they need to get reintegrated — is incredibly important,” he said.

For former MPs seeking career advice, the House of Commons offers the services of a third-party firm that provides one-on-one career coaching. MPs can use another career counselling firm as long as it’s cleared in advance.

In order to qualify for the transition fund, career transition programs have be started within 12 months of the general election. The fund also requires that ex-MPs submit certificates for career transition programs.

Liberal MP Mark Holland rises in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Friday, June 3, 2016. Holland says he was devastated when he lost in 2011. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Defeated incumbents can also use the program’s cash to go back to school in Canada.

The MP handbook stipulates that, in order to qualify for transition program funding, ex-MPs must prove the training or education they’re seeking is in a field related to the work they intend to pursue. The institution also must be required by contract to provide on-the-job instruction, tutoring, training or supervision.

The manual lists teaching, law, accounting, engineering and the trades as examples of skills that could be subsidized.

As with the career transition programs, training programs have to start within 12 months of the end of the general election to qualify for funding, and proof of completion is required.

The money also can be used for travel. Members who are not re-elected are entitled to up to four economy-class round trips within Canada if they can prove they’re travelling to and from job interviews, education sessions or career transition sessions, or if they need to travel to Ottawa to sell their homes.

Transition program funds can also be used to pay for sundry services such as long-distance phone calls within Canada, stationery and office supplies, but the program requires receipts.

MPs often leave private-sector gigs

Holland says sceptics who baulk at the program’s price tag need to understand the sacrifice most MPs make by leaving promising careers to run for office.

“I think that nobody understands the pressures of somebody who steps forward and offers themselves to public service,” he said.

“Regardless of the partisan stripe, I have enormous regard for people who put themselves in that position and I think that it makes only good sense to make sure that they transition back to public life.”

MPs who do not seek re-election are also entitled to up to $15,000 in transition support to help re-establish themselves after leaving politics.

The money comes out of the House of Commons administration central budget.

£18m Extension to Opportunity Area Programme
November 5, 2019
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£18 million announced to extend the Opportunity Area programme to support social mobility in some of the most disadvantaged areas.

Young people in some of the most disadvantaged parts of England are set to benefit from an extra £18 million investment to build on improvements in educational outcomes, careers advice and attracting teachers.

Young girl colouring

The Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has today announced the Government’s Opportunity Areas (OA) programme will be extended for an additional year, building on its success so far in areas of the country where children have for too long been left behind.

The programme is also showing impact in a wide range of areas from early years education to employment, following an initial £72 million boost for interventions across literacy, maths, attendance, teacher training and recruitment, post-16 options and careers advice since its launch in 2017.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

I grew up in Scarborough, now part of the North Yorkshire Coast Opportunity Area, and having returned recently for a visit I’ve seen for myself the progress being made and the difference it is making to young people living there.

Ability is evenly spread across the country, but opportunity isn’t. We’re determined to put right the wrongs of places left behind and see the Opportunity Area programme grow – helping local leaders and schools to tackle some of the greatest challenges young people face.

It’s not just about what happens now in these 12 areas but the impact these projects will have on future generations and paving the way for them to overcome obstacles to success.

The programme has been operating in 12 Opportunity Areas across the country – Blackpool, Derby, Norwich, Oldham, North Yorkshire Coast, West Somerset, Bradford, Doncaster, Fenland and East Cambridgeshire, Hastings, Ipswich and Stoke-on-Trent. Areas were chosen because they face some of the most entrenched obstacles to social mobility and were set up to improve outcomes and increase opportunities for all young people in these areas.

West Somerset has shown progress in early years’ development, with performance historically below the national average for pupil outcomes at the end of reception year, but now showing year on year improvements. The Story Start scheme is one of a range of early years’ initiatives, supporting families in rural areas to play, chat and read to boost their child’s development so they can start school with the skills needed to thrive.

Across all the Opportunity Areas around 60,000 young people have also been given the chance to develop life skills like resilience, teamwork, problem-solving, confidence and leadership thanks to a share of the £22 million Essential Life Skills programme.

Today’s funding extends the programme into a fourth year, which will run until August 2021, to help sustain long term improvements and outcomes.

Schemes put in place to improve maths are showing signs of success across some Opportunity Areas. In Ipswich, six weeks of Saturday maths classes provide targeted support, free bus travel and food for disadvantaged Year 11s at risk of not getting a GCSE level 4 or 5, with the first 75 pupils enrolled showing an average boost in predicted grades of 1.3 in comparison to the start of the programme.

Students With Unconditional Offers More Likely to Drop Out
November 5, 2019
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The analysis, published by the Office for Students (OfS), shows that the dropout rate was 10 per cent higher for students who accepted unconditional offers than would have been expected if they had accepted conditional offers.

Across the 2015-16 and 2016-17 academic years, this equated to almost two hundred students dropping out who would otherwise have been expected to continue.

This increase explicitly discounts other factors about those students that are associated with dropout rates, including what subject they study and where, and demographic characteristics.

If this pattern persists while rates of unconditional offer making continue to rise, the analysis shows that over 200 students per year could drop out who would otherwise have been expected to continue.

Nicola Dandridge,
chief executive of the OfS

Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of the OfS, said:

We already know that students who receive an unconditional offer are more likely to miss their predicted grades at school. It is a cause of real concern that they are also more likely to drop out of university once they get there.

Dropout rates are overall low in England, so this is a small effect. But we are not talking about one or two students. This is a couple of hundred students per year who have made a significant investment of time and money in a degree from which they are unlikely to benefit.

We have always been clear that some unconditional offers are necessary and in a student’s interests. But many of them are not. Although it is up to universities to decide who to admit and how, they must take responsibility for the impact of those decisions, and provide the right support for all students to be successful – especially if the offer they receive makes them less likely to do well at school.

As our regulatory framework sets out, admissions systems must be reliable, fair and inclusive. What we are seeing here are admissions systems that are not fair, and are not working in students’ best interests.’

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said:

Universities scrabbling to attract students with unconditional offers are too often focused on the bottom line rather than student interests. These latest figures show that many students are ill-served by the current admissions system, and that there is a real need for urgent reform.

A move to post-qualification admissions, where students receive offers after they their results, would be much fairer to students. It would eradicate the problems associated with unconditional offers, end the gamble of predicted grades and bring the whole of the UK into line with the rest of the world when it comes to university admissions.

The population included in this analysis is 18 year olds in England at universities, colleges and other higher education providers on the OfS Register. 

The non-continuation rate shows the proportion of students who don’t continue from their first to second year, either at the same university or by transferring to another. Our analysis suggests that this rate is 0.65 percentage points higher – or 10 per cent proportionally higher – for students who accept an unconditional offer. In calculating this increase, we have compared students who received conditional and unconditional offers based on their predicted grades and other factors. This means that the impact of receiving an unconditional offer on the grades students actually attain is likely to explain much of the effect on continuation rates.