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Older People: Training

Volume 700: debated on Thursday 24 April 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they are proposing action to secure adequate levels of workplace training and life-long learning for workers aged over 55. [HL2821]

We are committed to ensuring equal opportunities for all learners, and that learning serves the needs of the whole community, including older people both within and outside the workforce. Our strategy for World Class Skills and our reforms of wider adult learning are designed to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to improve their skills, prospects and quality of life.

The funding settlement announced in the Comprehensive Spending Review represents the biggest ever Government investment in skills. Of the £3 billion we are investing in each of the next three years in adult skills participation, we will invest some £1.5 billion annually in learning below level 2, to help the low-skilled and workless to learn, progress and achieve sustainable employment.

Our targets cover workers and learners of all ages and backgrounds, and our reforms balance skills and economic prosperity with fairness and inclusion. We will support individuals, including older people, into sustainable employment and progression in work and skills. We will give greater opportunity and choice to individuals over their training through skills accounts backed up by a new universal adult careers service which will promote personal advancement.

We are working with employers through Train to Gain and the skills pledge to meet skill needs and to ensure that all employees have the basic skills, including literacy and numeracy and level 2 skills, 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 will continue to prioritise funds towards programmes that improve skills but we recognise too the need to protect courses that do not necessarily lead to qualifications and progression but which do offer a wide range of personal, family, social, health and community benefits. We have safeguarded funding for Personal and Community Development Learning (PCDL) at £210 million per annum through to 2010-11. This figure has been constant since the introduction of PCDL in 2005-06.

In January we announced a wide-ranging consultation on informal adult learning with the publication of Informal Adult Learning—shaping the way ahead. The consultation will gather proposals for securing modern, attractive, inclusive and joined-up informal adult learning opportunities which make effective use of public resources.