Further education shake-up

FURTHER education in Suffolk is facing its biggest shake-up in an effort to stop the "brain drain" of young people from the county.Education bosses will launch tomorrow an 18-month inquiry that could have major consequences for sixth-forms and colleges, as well as apprenticeships and adult learning courses.

FURTHER education in Suffolk is facing its biggest shake-up in an effort to stop the "brain drain" of young people from the county.

Education bosses will launch tomorrow an 18-month inquiry that could have major consequences for sixth-forms and colleges, as well as apprenticeships and adult learning courses.

Employers and education leaders are concerned at the increasing number of young people leaving Suffolk, starving the county of skilled and qualified workers.

As well as changes to the further education system, the review is also likely to point to a lack of higher education facilities – fuelling calls for a university in Suffolk.

Nick Foster, executive director of the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) in Suffolk, which is conducting the assessment, said: "We have 25 pc of young people finish their education before the age of 18.

"This is actually around the national average, but there is a loss of people before their 18th birthday. This is affecting the skills and economy in the county.

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"We have got to try to understand why it is happening and put in measures to stop that happening so that more people stay in education until they are 18 and longer."

Mr Foster said people were "put off" by the fact there was no university in Suffolk where they could continue their education.

That meant people aged between 20 and 29 in particular were leaving the county and not coming back, having an adverse effect on the workforce and the number of companies choosing to locate in Suffolk.

The Strategic Area Review will ensure the LSC is spending its £78million budget for Suffolk in the best way.

The results of the analysis will be published and implemented in spring 2005 and an ongoing review of post-16 education in the county will continue after that.

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