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Learndirect Programme

Volume 496: debated on Thursday 16 July 2009

2. What recent representations he has received on the future of the Learndirect programme; and if he will make a statement. (287049)

There has been recent interest in Learndirect’s proposals to develop its technology and support more learners directly over the internet and telephone. We are examining the results of the trials, but for the foreseeable future we will continue to see face-to-face contact as a core aspect of delivery for many learners.

With more than one in 10 young people not in education, employment or training, it is good news that the Train to Gain programme in Learndirect centres and elsewhere has increased its uptake by 60 per cent. to 800,000. Why, then, is the Learning and Skills Council struggling with its current Train to Gain budget and the university for industry shutting down all Learndirect centres in 2010? Is there a real future for Learndirect and Train to Gain?

First, Learndirect will not be shutting down all its centres by July 2010. It has been consulting its network of providers about a possible new approach, but as I said earlier, that approach is being tested and the Government will be consulted before any final decisions are taken. On the future of Train to Gain, we will be spending £1 billion in 2011, building on the expenditure this year. Train to Gain is safe with this Government, although not with the Opposition, who would cut it.