The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) spent more than £1bn on programmes to promote equality of opportunity and greater diversity in the learning and skills sector in 2003-4, according to its Equality and Diversity Annual Report, published today.
The report shows rising success rates for all ethnic minority groups and for women in both further education colleges and work-based learning.
Success rates for learners with learning difficulties and/disabilities in further education colleges also rose.
The report revealed that significant progress is being made in driving up vocational learning among women, particularly those from ethnic minority backgrounds.
The number of black African women in further education rose by nearly 18%, from 52,400 in 2002-3 to 61,800 in 2003-4, while the figure for women of British Bangladeshi backgrounds increased from 14,800 to 16,200, just over 3%, in the same timescale.
Chris Banks, LSC chairman, said “The LSC’s twin aims of improving productivity through skills development and promoting social inclusion go hand in hand.
“Together they will allow the nation to respond to key demographic changes that will impact on our ability to truly compete in a global market.
“Fifty per cent of the growth in the workforce will come from minority ethnic communities and of the 1.3 million jobs created over the next decade, over one million are expected to be taken by women,” he said.
The LSC’s Equality and Diversity Annual Report 2003-04 is available from www.lsc.gov.uk.