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Thursday, 26 July, 2001, 14:31 GMT 15:31 UK
Awards for colleges' skills efforts
Catering students
Ministers want FE colleges to be more flexible
Sixteen colleges of further education in England have been named "centres of vocational excellence" as part of a programme designed to boost work-related skills.

They have been awarded the title by the Learning and Skills Council for showing excellence in a range of subjects.

The centres, which will also be known as pathfinder colleges, will receive about 300,000 each to develop expertise in fields including computing, construction, catering and childcare.

They will be expected to set the standard for other further education (FE) colleges.

The government announced the Centres for Vocational Excellence Scheme last November.

Click here for a list of the 16 colleges

The Learning and Skills Council wants half of all FE colleges to have at least one department with the accolade by 2004, a year ahead of the government's original plan.

Modern economy

Chief executive of the Learning and Skills Council John Harwood said: "We need colleges that are fast-moving, first to respond to change and that can give both adults and young people access to the enhanced vocational learning they need to succeed in a modern economy.

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

The government is putting 100m into the scheme over the next three years.

The successful colleges will be given more resources with the aim that they become more flexible and responsive to the needs of employers.

The Adult Skills Minister, John Healey, said: "Centres of vocational excellence will play an essential economic role by giving individuals the skills they need to enable them to find work in a fast changing jobs market and providing businesses with the skilled workers they need to succeed."

The Pathfinder colleges announced today are:
Accrington & Rossendale Construction Crafts
The Arts Institute at Bournemouth Lens based media
Barking and Havering Automotive Engineering
Bradford College Applied Science
Birmingham College of Food Tourism and Creative Studies Hospitality and Catering
Bishop Burton Agriculture
Lancaster & Morecambe College Hospitality & Catering
Leeds College of Technology Print Media
Lewisham College Computing
Richmond Adult & Community College Business & IT
South Birmingham Childcare
South East Essex Media Technology
South Tyneside College National Nautical Centre of Excellence
Sparsholt College Game, Wildlife and Countryside Management and Fishery Studies
Tameside College Engineering
Warwickshire College General Engineering

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See also:

21 Nov 00 | Education
Colleges to become skills specialists
03 Nov 00 | Education
UK colleges 'improving slowly'
19 Jul 00 | Education
Performance pay for college lecturers
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