An X Factor Preparation Course? It’s a NO from me.

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In a survey of our members conducted last year, only one in five agreed it was easier to find training courses responsive to their needs now than two years ago. Given the rise in training providers, and subsequently courses over the years, you would expect that this figure would be higher.

The problem is of course that providers are not offering what the manufacturing industry wants and instead seem to be focussing their efforts on courses in other areas.

The announcement that a new X Factor Preparation Course has been launched by Bishop Auckland College in County Durham is proof of just that.

What is the X Factor Preparation course offering?17 week X Factor Preparation courseLessons in singing, performance and audition preparationEnding just in time for the X factor auditionsTotal cost of course = £95

According to the Head of Art, Music and Performing Arts, the course is not just preparation for an all singing, all dancing career but it is also “about giving people real, transferable skills.” So for example building up the confidence to audition for a singing career will then help you in a job interview.

Perhaps it can build up your confidence in that respect, but let's remember that a handful of X factor contestants often storm off stage in a foul-mouthed rant – that's not what interviewers are looking for.

Three-quarters of manufacturers prioritise a passion for manufacturing when recruiting apprentices, so perhaps there is some scope for such courses to teach you how to articulate your enthusiasm for a job or industry at an interview, but I am still not entirely convinced.

Manufacturers are struggling to find the skills they need, and four in five are currently experiencing recruitment problems. UKCES research shows that 30% of vacancies in manufacturing are ‘hard-to-fill', above the 23% average. I don't think the X Factor is ever short of applications (devoted auditionees are known to camp overnight!)

The course costs the student £95 for the 17 weeks, the remaining costs of the course will be paid for by government funding and at the end students will qualify with an NCFE Level 1 Certificate in Music.

This is a far cry away from what EEF has been calling for in terms of a skills system that is responsive to employer needs.

Government funding should be targeted at offering courses that are demanded by and recognised by employers and a clear focus on higher level skills.

Short courses at lower skills levels that don't get young people into the jobs available are not the priority here.

Our survey also revealed that 45% of manufacturers were experiencing recruitment problems because applicants lacked relevant qualifications.

We need to give young people the skills, experience and qualifications they need to secure a job. The fact that youth unemployment is sitting alongside skills shortages shows that something is definitely wrong.

Other ‘unusual' coursesDavid Beckham – a 12 week module at Stafford University as part of the BA in Sports, Media and CultureHarry Potter and the Age of Illusion – module as part of the BA in Education Studies at Durham UniversityPhilosophy and Star Treks – learning whether time travel is possible at Georgetown UniversityFeel the Force: How to Train the Jedi Way – techniques behind Jedi mind tricks at Queen's University BelfastThe Robin Hood Studies Pathway - Nottingham UniversityHistory of Lace Knitting in Shetland – Glasgow UniversityUnderwater Basket Weaving – exactly what is says on the tin at the University of CaliforniaMaple Syrup – The Real Thing – an honours seminar at Alfred University in New YorkLady Gaga and the sociology of fame – University of South CarolinaZombie Students – to get ready for a zombie apocalypse at the University of Baltimore

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Head of Education & Skills Policy

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