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Colleges and training providers will now be given as little as two weeks notice of a financial assurance audit and only three days to present sample files, the ESFA has warned.
A letter from the agency, titled ‘ESFA Funding Assurance’ visits, says it plans to give providers as little as two weeks’ notice of an assurance review visit, which can take place any time of year, whereas previously providers were notified in June or July if they were to be visited in September.
And where before, providers had between five and ten days to prepare a selected sample of individual learner files, the ESFA will now give them between three and five days.
FE Week also understands that while the auditing only used to cover last year’s data and clawback from last year, this has been extended to include data from three years’ previously.
Elements of this new regime chime with the controversial mystery auditsthe ESFA carried out a number of providers earlier this year, where hundreds of documents from as far back as 2015/16 had to be handed over within two days.
This tightening of deadlines for providers is part of a crackdown by the ESFA on record-keeping by FE institutions.
3aaa, one of the country’s biggest apprenticeship providers, went bust in October after it was alleged employees had manipulated data to artificially inflate achievement rates by a huge amount.
In March, the principal of Dudley College, Lowell Williams, apologised
An ESFA investigation also found some learners’ end dates were inaccurate.
The ESFA audit team has also been beefed up this year.
As reported by FE Week, in May, it launched a recruitment drive for a “newly created market oversight unit”, including an advert for four auditor vacancies posted on the civil service jobs website.
Advertising all roles as flexible could help close the gender pay gap, assist parents to share childcare, and better support older workers say experts
A bill requiring employers to make all jobs flexible by default was introduced by Conservative deputy chairman and MP for Faversham and Mid Kent Helen Whately in Parliament on 16 July and was given approval to go to a second reading on 17 July.
Whately said that unless employers have a sound business reason for having specific working hours all jobs should be advertised as flexible.
It would help close the gender pay gap, assist parents to share childcare and help businesses retain staff, Whately explained.
“The 40-hour five-day working week made sense in an era of single-earner households and stay-at-home mums, but it no longer reflects the reality of how many modern families want to live their lives,” she said.
She added that a lack of flexible working reinforces gender stereotypes around work:
“At the moment too many women are reluctantly dropping out of work or going part time after having children because their employers won’t allow them flexibility. This entrenches the assumption that men are the breadwinners and women are the homemakers,” she said.
“As a result men don’t get to spend as much time as they might like with their children, women miss out on career opportunities, and the country loses out on the contribution they could and would like to make – if only they could do slightly different hours or work some days from home.”
Ella Smillie, head of policy and campaigns at the Fawcett Society, gave her backing to the bill.
“We urge MPs to give Helen Whately’s bill the support it deserves. Ensuring that employers offer flexible working would open up new jobs to a whole raft of people who want to work alongside carrying out caring responsibilities or simply achieving a better work/life balance,” she said.
“There are also clear benefits to employers: offering flexible working to employees creates a stronger, loyal and more diverse workforce, which pays dividends.”
Patrick Thomson, senior programme manager at the Centre for Ageing Better, said that the move could also be invaluable in supporting older workers, who may find it difficult to stay in work because of health problems and caring responsibilities. “We welcome calls to consider making flexible working the default for every job. The most common reasons people leave work before state pension age include managing caring responsibilities or health conditions, and flexible working is effective in helping balance these with staying in work,” he said.
“Office for National Statistics data out today shows older workers continue to be the fastest-growing age group, so we can’t afford to wait on this. There were a quarter of a million more over-50s in work last year,” he added. “But we know many people struggle with inflexible working practices that can result in them leaving work before they are ready. That’s bad for them as individuals – affecting their earnings and social connections – and bad for the UK economy as employers lose out on the skills and experience older workers can bring.
“We need to move towards flexible working being the default, and for employers to take action to support everyone to work in a way that suits them best.”
Joeli Brearley, founder and director of Pregnant Then Screwed, said it’s clear that flexible working is better for people and the economy: “This is good for our economy, good for business and good for humans. We know that 96% of employers already offer some form of flexible working, but only 11% of jobs state flexible working options. This means those with caring responsibilities, or other needs that require flexible working, feel unable to apply for positions that would otherwise make good use of their skills and expertise. It means we are not making the best use of our labour force and a lack of good-quality flexible working is the key cause of the gender pay gap,” she said.
“I don’t think there is a single employer that would argue that flexible working isn’t good for productivity. Time and time again the research shows this, we just need a culture shift – led by the government – to encourage employers to think about how a job can be done flexibly before they recruit.”
The new July Parents Pack is here and includes tips on how to help your child maximise their summer, parent FAQs, how to prepare for results day, apprentice article on mental health support, apprenticeships with Travis Perkins and so much more!
Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Awareness Week 2019 will take place from Monday 13 to Sunday 19 May 2019. The theme for 2019 is Body Image – how we think and feel about our bodies
Body image issues can affect all of us at any age. During the week we will be publishing new research, considering some of the reasons why our body image can impact the way that we feel, campaigning for change and publishing practical tools.
Since our first Mental Health Awareness Week in 2001, we’ve raised awareness of topics like stress, relationships, loneliness, altruism, sleep, alcohol and friendship. This year, with your support, we want to reach more people than ever!
Find out more HERE
Asking people what their first job was can lead to some surprising answers
The founder of Amazon worked on the grill at McDonald’s and Steve Jobs had a summer job at HP where he met the co-founder of Apple. The bottom line is we all start somewhere, and how we conduct ourselves in our first jobs, can pave the way for a successful career.
Sophie Graham, Careers Adviser at the National Careers Service offers her top tips on things you should ~never~ do in a new job.
- Don’t have the wrong attitude
This valuable piece of work collects together lessons learned and observations from ‘the other side of the fence’. It’s a very useful insight into how providers feel in the commissioning process and gives an insight into approaches that can achieve better outcomes for commissioners, beneficiaries and providers, and improved value for money.
The following article by Rebecca Knight, a freelance journalist in Boston and a lecturer at Wesleyan University, might be of interest to clients wanting IAG on mid-life career moves.
We all have times when we wonder, “Am I at the right company? Am I in the right job? And is this all there is?”
These questions are especially agonizing for mid-career professionals who may be searching for fulfillment while juggling demands at home and intense financial pressures to earn. How should you address a mid-career crisis? What actions can you take to improve your professional satisfaction? How can you combat the dullness and tedium of your workaday life? And how can you tell if it’s time to make a drastic change?
What the Experts Say
Mid-career malaise runs deep. It’s much more than just an “episodic moment” of frustration or “a particularly gruesome work project” that depletes you, says Gianpiero Petriglieri, associate professor of
organizational behavior at INSEAD. “It’s a protracted feeling of, ‘Am I missing something?’” This type of professional discontent is relatively common in middle age, he says. “Midlife is the time where you lose the illusion of immortality. You know your opportunities aren’t endless, and you realize that time is finite,” he says. Even people who have achieved a great deal of career success aren’t immune to these feelings, says Whitney Johnson, an executive coach and the author several books including Build an A-Team. “They question: ‘Is this really what I want to be doing?’” She says that while “it’s natural and normal to experience professional restlessness,” you must heed “the call to action.” You need to be “proactive and figure out what to do about it.” Here’s how.
Reflect and reframe
For starters, identify the cause of your professional discontent. “When you have a sense of malaise, you begin to question everything,” Petriglieri says. “But you need to break down the problem and start with the place where it hurts. Is it your job? Or the organization you’re in?” Depending on your answer, “the prescription is different.” Of course, it’s not easy to rethink your professional path in middle age, when you’ve likely got a number of nonnegotiable commitments to consider — maybe a mortgage, a spouse or partner who has their own career, and children in school. If you find yourself dwelling on what holds you back, Johnson recommends “reframing the constraints.” When you’re young and you can live and work anywhere in the world, plotting your career path is incredibly daunting — “almost paralyzing,” she says. “But in middle age, the scope is tighter.” You know you “need to work in certain geographic regions” and “earn a certain amount of money” to live. “The constraints are actually helpful.” Read more
Local Enterprise Partnerships in the North of England will form an influential new body to support the government’s ambitions for the Northern Powerhouse across the region, Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry MP has announced.
The Chairs of each of the 11 Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) will sit on a newly formed, government-funded board called the ‘NP11’.
The board will act as one voice representing each of their regions as a modern day ‘Council for the North’ to work with and advise the government on issues such as how to increase productivity, overcome regional disparities in economic growth and tackle the historic north-south divide.
While speaking at the first ever Northern Powerhouse Business Summit in Newcastle Gateshead, Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry MP said:
As we approach leaving the European Union we need to ensure that every area of the UK continues to economically flourish.
The Northern Powerhouse will be a vital support to the UK in achieving this and so I am very pleased the 11 LEP Chairs have agreed to form the new NP11 board.
For the first time since 1472, we will bring together the business voices of the Northern Powerhouse in our Council for the North. They have one task: to enrich all the peoples of the North of England – this is the foundation stone of the Northern Powerhouse and, with the skills and expertise of the NP11, we will shift the North’s economy into overdrive.
Together we will deliver a North of England which is an economic powerhouse and one which can proudly take its place on the world stage both now and as we leave the EU.