HC Deb 11 February 1999 vol 325 cc449-50
4. Mr. Andrew Reed (Loughborough)

If he will make a statement on the responses that have been received to the learning age Green Paper. [68875]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Employment (Mr. George Mudie)

We had some 3,000 responses to "The Learning Age" Green Paper. Nearly 2,000 were from members of the public and the rest were from employers, educational institutions, local authorities and others. We are greatly encouraged by the broad support in those responses for our overall vision and proposals. We will, in due course, publish a summary of the responses.

Mr. Reed

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Does he agree that one of the worst legacies of the previous Government is the fact that 7 million workers have no formal qualifications in the workplace, which puts us among the bottom countries in the European Union? Does he further agree that individual learning accounts will be a key element in trying to address that problem? When does he intend to move that forward, to have a plan in place and to make the first 1 million individual learning accounts available, perhaps through training and enterprise councils?

Mr. Mudie

If we are to improve the competitiveness of the British economy and to end social exclusion, which mars and disfigures our cities and communities, we will have to succeed with "The Learning Age" proposals, a key one of which is the individual learning account. From April, up to 100,000 people will be able to have an individual learning account and call up £150 to spend on learning. Working in partnership with employers, trade unions and any other group, we view that as an important catalyst in bringing people back to learning who may not have given it a thought.