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Vocational Training: ICT

Volume 490: debated on Monday 23 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what steps he is taking to improve access to IT training in Kent Thameside. (263239)

The Government recognise that information communication and technology (ICT) training has a major role to play in helping to deliver our ambition to become a world leader in skills. With regard to ICT user skills, the recent publication “Skills for Life: Changing Lives” outlines how DIUS is considering with partners the development of a national strategy for ICT as a skill for life. More details will be provided shortly when the Informal Adult Learning White Paper is published. Plans for the development of digital skills more widely are being prepared with advice from sector skills councils following publication of “Digital Britain: The Interim Report” in January 2009 and will be presented in the final report to be published by the summer.

With regard to Kent Thameside more specifically, it is recognised that a mismatch between skills and opportunities could be a significant potential barrier to local regeneration. The Kent Thameside Regeneration Framework has a specific objective to raise the standards of learning and skills.

IT training will play a critical part in up-skilling local residents to take advantage of the opportunities that will become available through regeneration. There is a range of projects located in local communities across Kent Thameside aimed at raising the skills of local people. The Gateway Knowledge Alliance is part of a partnership delivering targeted IT provision with Learn IT to unemployed learners in deprived communities. It is also working as part of Employ North Kent on a SEEDA funded initiative. Starting from April 2009, the project will involve jobs-matching and the delivery of suitable courses that have been identified, which could include IT. In Dartford, a new state-of-the-art adult education centre was officially opened in February. The centre includes a new IT suite and aims to allow adults to gain the skills that employers are looking for, particularly during this economic downturn. There has been a big uptake in the number of people taking part in courses for the key employability skills of maths, IT and basic English. In Dartford alone, there has been a 20 per cent. increase in the number of people enrolling on these courses since September.