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Education and employment secretary David Blunkett today announced new ...
Education and employment secretary David Blunkett today announced new

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:

- reforms to apprenticeships to raise standards and boost


- 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

high street.

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

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.


Education and employment secretary David Blunkett today urged

16-year-olds who are tempted to leave education or training not to

quit now.

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

Centre, London.

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

choose from;

- 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 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.

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