MPS urged to bring back ‘quality controlled’ ilas

The controversial Individual Learning Accounts system should be revamped and
reintroduced, the directors of the Learning and Skills Council have said.

In a submission to the Education and Skills Select Committee, they called
for an improvement in quality controls and a coherent national framework so
that the system could be reintroduced.

The initiative, which entitled people to grants of up to £200 towards
educational courses, was the Government’s flagship training enterprise until it
collapsed amid acrimony last year.

The Government closed down the system in November after an investigation led
to suspicions that there was widespread fraud and misuse of the training funds.

Director of learning programmes at the LSC Geoff Hall told MPs that despite
its problems, the ILA scheme was still the most successful attempt to attract
new learners.

"ILAs attracted more than a million people into LSC colleges and other
training providers. The easy access to learning and reduced cost of fees
appealed to many as a simple way of improving their prospects," he said.

Hall called for the system to be updated and reintroduced, saying the LSC
fully supported the concept of learning accounts. "We want to build on the
wide recognition of ILAs. They might have been damaged by recent events but we
believe they can be successfully re-established so long as this is done
cautiously."

Commenting on the LSC’s submission, training consultant Paul Kearns
questioned the value of ILAs. He said: "Large numbers of people using a
training system is no indication of its effectiveness and doesn’t justify its
existence."

www.mpa.gov.uk

By Ross Wigham

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