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Volume 503: debated on Thursday 14 January 2010

7. What estimate he has made of the number of people who have completed training courses under the unionlearn programme since 2006; and if he will make a statement. (310581)

Since 2006, trade unions, supported by unionlearn, have helped over 570,000 workers access a training course, including over 80,000 with poor basic literacy and numeracy skills. Detailed information on completions is not collated centrally, but Leeds university business school is currently undertaking a comprehensive analysis of learner outcomes, which will provide robust evidence of the percentage completing courses.

Will my hon. Friend confirm that those 500,000-plus learners through unionlearn include many people who would not have accessed skills training without it, which is why it is so popular with employers—it is in the national interest and the interest of companies? Also, has he received representations from other parties about whether they are prepared to commit to unionlearn?

I can confirm my hon. Friend’s first point. Interestingly, in yesterday’s debate, the hon. Member for Havant (Mr. Willetts) said he was very much in favour of unionlearn because it was so cost-effective. I do not know whether that is a pledge, but one thing is clear: this is a Labour Government policy that the Conservative party opposed, but which is now endorsed by its Front-Bench team as very good value for money.