Rt Hon Ruth Kelly MP, visited Bury based training provider Alliance Learning this month to discuss the impending decision to withdraw funding from the UK’s learndirect centres.
Alliance Learning’s Chairman, Paul Dickinson wrote to the MP in April following the news that from July 2010, Ufi (University for industry) will no longer contract with high street learndirect centres; causing major concern for local learners.
Ufi have decided to transform learndirect into a purely internet based service with online tutor support available remotely via e-mail or telephone.
The majority of Alliance’s learners (approximately 500 every year) are worried their results will suffer without the personal, one-to-one support they have come to rely on from the centres.
According to Nomis (Office for National Statistics), the local area ward reports 34.8% of the working age population without any formal qualifications, making it increasingly difficult for them to meet the stringent entry requirements for many jobs.
Enthused by Alliance Learning’s unwavering dedication to their local learners, Ms Kelly agreed to meet with representatives of Alliance to openly discuss Ufi’s plans and judge for herself how the proposed changes to the learndirect service may affect her constituents in the local area.
After speaking to both staff and learners in the centre, Ms Kelly agreed to look into the issue and contact Ufi with a request for clarification of their published proposals in an attempt to sustain a learndirect presence in the local Bury area.
With over 650 learndirect centres located across England and Wales, the impact of these closures would be felt significantly around the UK and this is a concern Alliance feel should be addressed by senior members of Parliament.
Speaking about this poignant issue, Steve Whitehead, Chief Executive of Alliance Learning said:
“The current situation with our learndirect contract is we have been advised that we will have a contract next year 2009/10 and are highly likely to have one for 2010/11 as UFI continue with the current trials. At the same time we are looking for alternative funding streams to supplement any shortfall in income should it arise. This is obviously a rapidly changing situation but we will keep everyone informed as we receive any new information.”