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Open University

Volume 981: debated on Tuesday 18 March 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Employment, following his recent visit to the Open University, what plans he has to promote training schemes through the medium of the Open University.

Although I have not visited the Open University since taking office, I was happy to speak at the graduation ceremony some weeks ago. I am glad that the MSC is already working with the Open University to develop updating programmes for managers and engineers and that it is considering the scope for greater use of distance learning techniques.

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that there is a tremendous amount of untapped potential that would benefit from some below degree level training at the Open University? Is it not time that the Government made some headway? Should they not introduce courses and provide the necessary cash to enable those who have been made unemployed in the textile industry, the thatching industry and so on to study at the Open University in the same way as others?

I do not wish to become involved in a question that may concern the Secretary of State for Education and Science. The Open University can help the Manpower Services Commission in distance learning techniques, training-for-management courses, tutorial support and the development of technical training. However, there is much to be done before we can move towards an "Open Tech". Retraining in adult life will become one of the more pressing needs of the next 20 years.