measures to raise skills levels throughout the workforce and increase
investment in learning. Responding to the final report of the
National Skills Task Force, Mr Blunkett announced:
- a new£2.5m fund to raise skills levels amongst small businesses
- a review of the financing of adult learning
Welcoming the task force report, Mr Blunkett said:
'In this new century, skills and learning must be the key
determinants of success and prosperity. Opportunity for all is not
only right, it is an economic necessity. No longer can we educate
just an elite to the highest levels - we need to develop the talents
of every member of the workforce to their full potential.
'The task force has set an agenda to meet the priority skill needs of
our leading industries and to equip people to contribute fully at
work and in society. There are too many areas vital to our economy
where there are not enough skills to grow our businesses. Yet if we
each raised our productivity by just 1,000th over the current trend
we could gain an extra£10bn of output over the next 10 years.
'This government is already implementing the task force's
recommendations. The task force proposed a number of reforms to
vocational learning, and today I am announcing a consultation on
reforms to Foundation and Advanced Modern Apprenticeships to take
this agenda forward. Our objective is to build a high standard ladder
of progression in vocational learning, from secondary education up to
higher education. An improved apprenticeship structure, in which
there is greater rigour, will be central to this policy.
The consultation will:
- increase taught knowledge and understanding
- improve retention and attainment
- provide support and financial incentives to employers and accredit
businesses which take on Modern Apprentices
- guarantee apprenticeships for all young people who want them
'Figures published last week show that the government's target of
getting 100,000 young people on National Traineeships (now called
Foundation Modern Apprenticeships) by April this year was exceeded by
the end of December. There were 120,000 by April 2000.
'These proposals build on the task force recommendations. But this is
not a job for government alone. Employers and individuals must act on
the task force's evidence that training pays for business
competitiveness and career success. I intend to do more to create the
right climate for that to happen.
'Small companies often don't have human resource or personnel
departments, so working together to develop the capacity to promote
skills and re-skilling is important. Both the Learning and Skills
Council (LSC), the Regional Development Agencies and the Small
Business Service will have a part to play in achieving this. The
collaborative approach of these organisations will bear fruit.
We will assist small businesses - which account for over nine million
jobs - by creating a new£2.5m challenge fund which will allow
training collaboration with others in their sector, business park or
We will give adult learners a second chance and do more for those
studying part time in our colleges by reviewing learning accounts,
loans and fee remission to make sure funding reaches those who need
it most. Further details will be announced in due course.
'IT remains one of the fastest growing areas of skill need in this
country. I welcome the fact that the IT National Training
Organisation and the e-business.nto have decided to merge as the
e-Skills NTO so that they can better meet the needs of this industry
and attract in a growing number of fresh recruits, especially women.
And we have now agreed with the Qualifications and Curriculum
Authority that they will cut by 90 per cent the 800 plus titles of
qualifications in the sector, which will end confusion and raise
'We want to build on the experience we have had with the successful
Bugbusters scheme which engaged small businesses that otherwise would
not have the resources or commitment to taking action. Bugbusters was
developed and delivered very quickly to help small businesses adapt
to the Year 2000 date change on their computers and was a resounding
success. Over 40,000 people within these businesses were trained to
deal with the millennium bug - more than double the prime minister's
'These are only the first steps in our full response to the work of
the Skills Task Force. When I have made announcements on investment
after the government's review of spending plans, I will publish my
full response in the autumn. My top priorities for the new LSC will
include many task force recommendations.
'There is a message here for employers too. I will be launching a
campaign in the autumn to spread the lessons about skills and
productivity that come through so strongly in the task force's work.
We must have active partnerships to make sure that opportunity for
all will bring excellence for the many - in our colleges, workplaces
and wider communities. Employers will not survive in the new economy
without investing in skills.'
Bryan Sanderson, chairman-designate of the LSC, warmly welcomed
today's publication of the final Skills Task Force Report.
'I have seen at first hand around the world the critical importance
of a skilled and open-minded workforce responsive to the development
and technology which are changing all our lives. It is clear that the
most successful economies are those where education and training are
firmly connected to skill needs.
'The task of the LSC is to transform our education and training
system so that it provides the basis for the skilled and educated
workforce which our country needs to ensure its success in the modern
world. I am grateful to all the members of the task force for their
hard work in providing the LSC with such a wonderful start to its
1. Copies of the National Skills Task Force report are available
from the DfEE publications centre (Prolog), PO Box 5050, Sudbury,
Suffolk CO10 6ZQ (ref: SK728) or telephone 0845 602 2260.
2. The government's initial response to the National Skills Task
Force Report is contained in the pamphlet: 'Opportunity for all:
skills for the new economy' - ISBN 184185 316X. Copies are
available from Prolog, as above (ref NSAI).
3. The Modern Apprenticeships consultation document sets out
proposals to reform and reshape the future of work based training
for young people. It seeks the views of a wide range of
individuals and organisations concerned with young people. It is
available from Prolog, as above (ref VET2) or can be accessed on
the DfEE website on www.dfee.gov.uk/ma.consultation.
4. Modern Apprenticeships cover over 80 sectors of employment and
approaching 500 qualifications. According to the Statististical
First Release on Work-Based Training for Young People and
Work-Based Learning for Adults: Volumes and Outcomes (SFR 26/2000,
published 23 June 2000), 219,900 young people are currently taking
Modern Apprenticeships, 78,200 Foundation Modern Apprenticeships
(level 2) and 141,700 Advanced Modern Apprenticeships (level 3).
The Government's target of achieving 100,000 level 2 Modern
Apprenticeship starts by April this year was exceeded - 120,000
had started by that date.
BLUNKETT TELLS SCHOOL LEAVERS - DON'T QUIT NOW
Education and employment secretary David Blunkett today urged
16-year-olds who are tempted to leave education or training not to
Launching a£3m advertising campaign to be run over the summer
called 'DON'T QUIT NOW', Mr Blunkett called on all school-leavers to
stay on in school, college or apprenticeships.
Mr Blunkett said:
'After four years of decline, we expect new figures on Thursday to
show that the proportion of 16-year-olds staying in education or
training rose in 1999. Where Education Maintenance Allowances -
means-tested payments of up to£30 a week for staying at school or
college - have been piloted, there has been, on average, a five per
cent improvement in staying on between 1998 and 1999, compared to an
average improvement of two per cent nationally. The allowance has
also encouraged young people to work harder, giving them a better
chance to achieve good qualifications.
'Our goal is that as many young people as possible stay on in
learning until at least age 19. Whether it is in full-time education
at school or college, an apprenticeship or other vocational learning,
there are plenty of opportunities for young people to progress to
higher qualifications and a more secure future. So I urge young
people not to quit learning before they have been able to develop
their skills and abilities to their full potential.
'Thousands of young people will get their GCSE results in the summer.
Many will do very well. Some will do less well, and as a result will
consider dropping out of learning altogether. But dropping out of
learning and work between 16 and 18 often leads to unemployment later
in life or unskilled jobs with a low wage. And there are other social
consequences such as poorer health and unplanned parenthood.
'It is vital therefore that we try to persuade young people not to
quit learning after leaving school. Even if they have few or no
qualifications, we can offer a route for each young person to carry
on learning and building up their skills.
'The DON'T QUIT NOW campaign, which will consist of TV and radio
commercials as well as print advertising, will give young people
information about all the options available to them. There are lots
of ways to learn and get qualified. Access to the information will be
by phoning the 'DON'T QUIT NOW' response line who will send a pack
containing a leaflet and CD:ROM or by accessing the 'DON'T QUIT NOW'
website. Information about learning and skills is also available
through LEARNDIRECT, the country's biggest learning provider. The
campaign will also have a presence at those events around the country
which are likely to attract young people.'
1. David Blunkett was speaking at the launch of the Skills Task
Force fourth and final report at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference
2. Three key messages will underpin the 'DON'T QUIT NOW' campaign:
- the benefits of staying on in some type of learning opportunity
post-16 will help you get a better job, more money and more choice
long term; much more likely to happen if you stay in learning up
to age 19;
- there are lots of different ways you can stay on in learning
post-16 - Modern Apprenticeship, College, school sixth form, etc;
- it can be fun and there are lots of different options of course to
- help is available to you if you need advice; also you may be
eligible for financial support.
The key groups targeted are:
- 15 to 16-year-olds school leavers and potential leavers who might
be expected to achieve a few GCSEs but who might not be motivated
to stay on in learning post-16;
- those leaving school this summer with few or no qualifications;
- 17-year-olds who need to be encouraged back into learning having
already dropped out; and
- parents and others who influence the young people's decisions.
The Campaign schedule is as follows:
TV advertising 11 - 31 August
Radio advertising 23 July - 10 September
Cinema Postcards 4 - 31 August
Internet Banners 24 July - 31 August
Ethnic Press 24 July - 28 August
Youth Press 24 July - 9 October
The DON'T QUIT NOW response line is on 0845 608 6087 and the
website is at www.dfee.gov.uk/dqn. Copies of the response pack are
available now and will be sent to Careers Services and others
shortly. The number of LEARNDIRECT is 0800 100900.
3. Education Maintenance Allowances are new allowances for 16
to19-year-olds who continue education beyond Year 11. They were
launched in September 1999 and are being piloted in 15 LEAs across
England, using four different payment variants. A further 41
pilots are to start in September 2000. The EMA is paid as a weekly
allowance, from Monday to Friday. Students can qualify for
allowances of between£5 and£30 per week with additional bonuses
paid termly and annually for retention and achievement. EMAs are a
genuine experiment to test whether paying a weekly allowance
increases post-16 participation, retention and achievement.