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.

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

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

Commenting on the LSC’s submission, training expert 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.

By Ross Wigham

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