MEDIA studies and other "in-vogue" courses are turning out students unfit for the labour market, education minister James Paice told college principals this week.
Speaking at the annual conference of the Association of Colleges in Cardiff, he attacked "in-vogue courses that appear to lead to no job at all". "It isn't doing either the young person or the college any good if they spend one, two or three years getting a qualification for which there is little labour market need," he said.
In the week college league tables were published, he urged colleges to give priority to publishing information on student destinations. Mr Paice said: "Taxpayers want to know - and they have a right to know - what is the employment and higher education return from their investment in the FE system."
He also urged an end to "cut-throat competition" and "destructive rivalry" in the sector. Picking up a theme repeated throughout the conference - the first of the newly-merged representative body for further education - he encouraged greater collaboration between colleges. "It is possible for colleges to collaborate together in a competitive environment," he said.
But principals rejected his claims that they were "saturating the market with provision in popular areas" to beat off the competition. Ted Parker, principal of Barking College in Essex, said the changing employment world made it impossible to turn out students fitted exactly for a particular job. He said: "What we want is for them to get back into learning and through that to gain the skills and attitudes that will make them employable."