Vince Cable to star in Christmas Strictly Come Dancing

Vince Cable Mr Cable enjoys dancing as a hobby

Business secretary Vince Cable is to star in a Christmas edition of Strictly Come Dancing.

Dr Cable will partner ballroom professional Erin Boag.

He said: "I have had a couple of practice sessions with Erin, who is absolutely gorgeous and a great teacher. I am looking forward to it."

He made the announcement at the Association of Colleges conference where he also set out plans for more apprenticeships in England.

The business secretary, who is a keen ballroom dancer, is already preparing for the hit show.

Dancing hobby

The 67-year-old aims to perform the American Smooth and the foxtrot when he follows in fellow politician Ann Widdecombe's footsteps performing on the programme.

Dr Cable said she had broken through the barrier against politicians appearing on the show.

He described his initial practice sessions as a "great experience" and also praised Miss Widdecombe's efforts to liven up viewers' Saturday evenings.

"I have done social dancing as it's my hobby, but she (Erin) is hopefully taking me to a much higher level," Dr Cable added.

Start Quote

Is it realistic to expect private sector employers to take on three-quarters of a million adult apprentices during an economic downturn?”

End Quote Sally Hunt UCU

He also launched the government's skills strategy which includes making the funding available for an extra 75,000 apprenticeships on top of the 200,000 already promised by Labour as well as improving skills training.

He said: "We are not in a position to throw money at the problem, but even against the backdrop of reductions, resource will be found to expand the apprenticeship programme for adults and support more people undertaking an increasingly respected form of vocational training."

However, he acknowledged that relatively few employers offer apprenticeship schemes and the difficulty in matching potential apprentices with employers has been well-documented.

The 2009 Skills Commission survey found that only 8% of employers in England offered apprenticeships. This compares to 24% in Germany and 30% in Australia.

The UCU lecturers' union questioned how a shrinking public sector and recession-hit private sector could provide the jobs to meet the planned expansion.

Engaging employers

Its general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: "We welcome the government's intention to raise the status of vocational education but is it realistic to expect private sector employers to take on three-quarters of a million adult apprentices during an economic downturn?"

She also criticised plans to make over-25s pay for A-level equivalent courses through government-backed loans. These are currently paid for by the public purse.

The AOC said in its response to the skills strategy that colleges were well equipped to provide training at GCSE, A-level and degree.

"An obstacle to higher level apprenticeships is the lack of job roles at this level. The key issue is the engagement of employers, not the engagement of colleges and potential apprentices."

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