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New Centres of Vocational Excellence announced

A further 70 further education colleges have been selected as Centres of Vocational Excellence (CoVES) following an "exceptional" response to the second phase of the Learning and Skills Council programme designed to meet the skills needs of the nation.

Less than seven months after introducing the scheme with the selection of 16 'Pathfinder' colleges to set the standard, the LSC is now almost half way towards meeting its target that 50 per cent of all general FE colleges in England will have least one department accredited with CoVE status by 2004.
John Harwood, Chief Executive of the Learning and Skills Council, said: "We have received an exceptional response to the development of our Centres of Vocational Excellence programme following the establishment of the 16 'Pathfinder' colleges and a series of regional conferences in 2001.

"We received no fewer than 370 applications in this second round, from which 70 were selected as matching the priority skills needs required in their local areas, their regions and in the country as a whole.

"The sector is clearly rising to the challenge and it is particularly encouraging that many of the applications we received were joint bids from colleges, working together.

"The CoVEs programme is a cornerstone of the Government's policy to reinvigorate technical and vocational specialisation within the further education sector. We have now selected a total of 86 colleges as centres of excellence - putting us well on course to meet our target of 175 by 2004.

"Together, these centres will underpin a modern further education sector, contributing fully to the nation's vocational skills and the drive to boost competitiveness."

The successful colleges will now have to complete an audit and development plan supported by local Councils and the Learning and Skills Development Agency, where required, by 15th March 2002. These audit and development plans will need to be formally approved.

The 100 million three-year initiative is aimed at improving vocational skills by developing a nationally co-ordinated network of CoVES. This will comprise a strategic mix of high quality local, regional, sectoral and national specialisms to meet skills needs.

Cambridgeshire centres announced are Cambridge Regional College/Peterborough Regional College/Isle College/CRC, their specialism is Care & Early Years Construction Studies.

February 2002




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