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Older Workers

Volume 468: debated on Monday 26 November 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what assessment he has made of the types of learning required to help older people remain economically active; and if he will make a statement. (167764)

Older people are a hugely valued part of our society, contributing more and more in later life. Almost 8 million people over 50 work and age legislation means that age need no longer be a barrier to working, training or promotion. Our economic success is increasingly dependent on our older work force being as skilled and as productive as younger workers, but too many older workers do not have the basic literacy, numeracy and work place skills they need to succeed, and too few are engaging in education and training to change that.

Our strategy for World Class Skills sets bold targets and our reforms include supporting individuals, including older workers, into sustainable employment and progression in work and in skills. We are committed to ensuring equal opportunities for all learners. Our targets cover workers and learners of all ages and our reforms balance skills and economic prosperity with fairness and inclusion. We will give greater ownership and choice to individuals over their training through skills accounts backed up by a new universal adult careers service that will provide free skills health checks for people of any age at key stages in working life.

We are also working with employers through Train to Gain and the Skills Pledge to meet skill needs and to ensure that all employees including older people have the basic skills, including literacy and numeracy and Level 2 skills (equivalent to five good GCSEs), needed to sustain and progress in employment. We are increasing funding for Train to Gain from £440 million in 2007/08 to over £900 million in 2010/11. We want to encourage all employers in England to make a Skills Pledge that is a specific promise that every eligible employee will be helped to gain basic skills and a full Level 2 qualification.