HC Deb 23 January 1991 vol 184 cc196-7W
Mr. Redmond

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he intends to extend the life of his Department's REPLAN programme of education for the adult unemployed for at least a further year beyond October 1991.

Mr. Bowis

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will now make an announcement on the future of REPLAN.

Mr. Eggar

The REPLAN programme in England and Wales has been evaluated by the National Foundation for Educational Research, and I have today placed a copy of its report in the Library. Among its main findings were that REPLAN had been successful in raising the awareness of local education authorities and education providers to the needs of the adult unemployed and that as a result provision had improved and participation increased.

It is now for the adult education providers and the LEAs to continue to develop provision for the adult unemployed, drawing on the lessons learnt under the REPLAN programme. We look to them to work particularly closely with the training and enterprise councils which are responsible for delivering the major training programmes for the adult unemployed.

The REPLAN programme will have largely fulfilled the purpose for which it was established when its current term is completed next October, and it is not the intention therefore of my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Education and Science and for Wales to extend it for a further term. Neither do we believe that there is a need for a successor programme of general promotion and support to the providers of education and training for the adult unemployed.

We will however take specific action to address specific problems and my right hon. and learned Friends the Secretaries of State for Education and Science and for Employment and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales are today launching a new initiative to improve and increase the provision of adult literacy and basic skills training.

This new initiative will be targeted at unemployed people and at those in work who cannot progress without improved basic skills. It will be overseen by the adult literacy and basic skills unit and will encourage LEAs and TECs to work together to improve basic skills provision in their areas.

The three Departments are making available nearly £3 million over the three years 1991–92 to 1993–94. We expect to fund a pilot programme of some 30 local development initiatives worked up by LEAs and TECs.

The initiatives will be based on an examination of needs and of existing provision in the area. It will be for LEAs and TECs to decide what to propose, but we would expect to see such developments as "compacts" which would prepare people for specific employment; basic skills training in the workplace; and supported self-study and open learning. The lessons learnt from the pilot will be disseminated nationally to assist the development of similar activity in other areas.