Monday, March 31, 2008

News: 31st March 2008

A lot of my time has been taken up over the last few days by the curiosity that’s been generated by the story of the “Pregnant Man” over in the US. For more details on that listen here:

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Meanwhile, closer to home, I’ve been trying to continue the experiment of Podcasting a reasonably regular digest of interesting and relevant E&D related news stories. Here is this week’s crop:

First – The Government has been urged to fully ratify an international treaty on disability.

In 2007, the UK became one of the first countries to sign the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

But, according to the BBC, the disability charity Scope is now saying that it’s worried ministers may opt out of parts of the treaty, including the right not to live in an institution.

The government has said it hopes to ratify the treaty by the end of 2008.

Countries that adopt the treaty will have to get rid of laws, customs and practices that discriminate against disabled people.

The convention sets out the rights of disabled people, covering civil and political rights, accessibility, participation and inclusion, education, health, employment and social protection.

Scope says this treaty could do a lot to improve the rights of Britain's 11 million disabled people - but only if the government ratifies all of it.

The charity's Executive Director, Andy Rickell, said he was concerned that the UK would opt out of several sections - including the right to attend a mainstream school, the right not to live in a residential home, and the right to be treated as someone with the capacity to make decisions on their own behalf.

Rickell is quoted as saying, "There cannot be a 'pick and mix' approach on this. It will weaken the value of the convention and also undermine the government's record on promoting disabled people's human rights."

So far 17 countries have ratified the treaty including Spain, Cuba, India and Bangladesh. But 20 states must do so before it becomes legally binding.

And Next.. Skills Minister David Lammy has announced more support for recruitment and training to overcome the under-representation of women in five key sectors.

The Women and Work “Sector Pathways” Initiative, which has helped set out new recruitment and career pathways for over 8,000 women since 2006, will receive a further £5million a year for the next three years.

The initiative is currently running projects with 9 Sector Skills Councils. The Minister says that the 5 most successful projects will continue and that his Department will encourage new innovative approaches next year.

According to a release, all Sector Skills Councils will be given an opportunity to propose projects that address the needs of women in their sector. The projects will aim to help 5,000 women each year.

The initiative works to improve career opportunities for women in sectors and occupations where there are specific skills shortages and skills gaps, and where women are under-represented. This applies to sectors as diverse as construction, agriculture, automotive retail, clothing and footwear manufacture and cleaning.

The aim of the programme is to enable Sector Skills Councils to implement a range of focussed projects involving the recruitment, training and progression of women in their sectors.

Skills Minister David Lammy said that gender should be no barrier to a successful career, adding that “It's essential we provide extra support where it can do most good to help women overcome any barriers to recruitment or progression at work.” He says that the employer-led Sector Skills Councils understand their different sectors and so are best-placed to work with other similar employers to unlock all the talents in their workforce.

Sir Michael Latham, chairman of ConstructionSkills, said that the Women and Work scheme has given his organisation the opportunity to invest in a wide range of entry and progression routes for women in the industry.

He says that in the first phase of the programme, more than 2,000 women went through construction-related training, and have been given support and guidance to enable them to get started and to get on in the construction industry.


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