Training muddle blights drive for Blunkett’s learning society

Training experts have delivered a scathing verdict on the
Government’s strategy for creating a culture of lifelong learning in Britain.

They complain that in its enthusiasm for the learning
society it has set up a muddle of institutions, bodies, partnerships, funds and
schemes that are beyond the comprehension of experts.

Roger Opie, director of education at the Industrial Society,
said, “Far too much of it is disjointed initiatives that are set to continue
the problem of access to learning. Far from reducing the existing bureaucracy
and institutional fiefdoms that bar people from learning, the Government
appears to be creating a new set.”

The Government is expecting employers to play a full part in
the formation of a learning society. But experts point out that many of the
initiatives appear to outsiders to cut across each other and fulfil similar
aims.

Employers are being invited to take part in the New Deal,
Modern Apprenticeships, Investors in People, Learning Partnerships, the “Hubs”
which is associated with the University for Industry and, from April 2001, the
new Learning and Skills Councils that are set to replace the Training and
Enterprise Councils.

Yet the Department for Education and Employment does not
possess a list of all its schemes.

“I do think some are asking ‘how does all this fit together,’”
said Margaret Murray, head of the CBI’s learning and skills group. “If they
perceive it is too much, they will not deliver.”

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