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Education and Training Initiatives in the United Kingdom – review


Title: Education and Training Initiatives in the United Kingdom
Editor: Mëlanie Ottens
Publisher: Federation of Small Businesses, October 2001
Price: £9.99

In a world of expanding acronyms and here-today-gone-later-today funding, it’s high time that someone pulled together a useful summary of education and training initiatives. That’s certainly the intention of the Federation for Small Business with this publication. But in the digital information age, can a paper-based directory such as this hold its own against the might of the World Wide Web?

The book has a straightforward objective – to provide "an informed guide to the changes and opportunities in education and training". It provides a thumbnail sketch of education and training organisations in the UK as well as a directory of European, national and regional initiatives.

So does it do ‘exactly what it says on the tin’? Pretty much so – comprehensive coverage, clear layout, plenty of contact details (including e-mail and web addresses). Bearing in mind it’s probably got a primary target audience of small business owner-managers, it does a competent job of summarising the complexities of the topic. That’s not to say that seasoned training professionals wouldn’t appreciate it too – in fact it’s a very handy reference guide that could open your eyes to initiatives and funding that you didn't know existed (or thought too complicated to consider).

Sounds too good to be true? Well, the one reservation is that a printed resource such as this is practically out-of-date the moment it’s printed, in this case October 2001. Hence the inclusion of now-defunct initiatives such as the ill-fated Individual Learning Accounts. In the book’s conclusion, the editor makes a fair case for printed medium versus the internet –the web offering too much unstructured information or information of little practical use – but perhaps there’s a ‘third way’ that the FSB could yet exploit the best of both worlds. They could put the directory onto their website – if only in their ‘members only’ section – and then be able to keep it up to date with the latest changes to institutions and initiatives.

It’s certainly a useful directory, particularly for those unfamiliar with education and training. Perhaps the FSB will give consideration to developing a web-based resource that would maximise this directory’s appeal and impact.

Simon H Johnson
Liaison Manager
Babington Business College


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