Government puts training schemes under one body

The Government is pulling together the strands of its lifelong learning strategy after training experts criticised it for producing an incoherent muddle of bodies and schemes.

The remit of Nick Stuart, director-general of Life Long Learning, has been extended to cover all post-16 education so he can oversee all developments and ensure they fit together.

Personnel Today revealed in April that the vast number of Government learning and training initiatives is causing widespread confusion among employers who are expected to support the schemes and use them to train their staff.

The schemes include the New Deal, Modern Apprenticeships, Learning Partnerships, Investors in People, the University for Industry, learning centres, learning accounts and the new Learning and Skills Councils.

But different people with little contact with each other were in charge of each and the DfEE did not have a definitive list of the schemes.

“Virtually every single thing is now my responsibility,” said Stuart. “We needed to pull together all the strands.”

He has set up a cross-directorate review of all policies on access to adult learning including the university for industry, adult key skills and the trade union learning fund to see how they can link together.

A national skills agenda linking higher and further education with training and basic skills is being announced by David Blunkett this week.

“A whole range of things that were sat in boxes in different parts of the department are all coming together,” said Stuart.

Roger Opie, director of education at the Industrial Society, who criticised the previous set-up, said, “We feel some listening is going on and we are seeing signs of what we hope is joined up government. But the proof of the pudding will be in the learning and whether the barriers of access and funding are overcome,” he said.

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