§ Mr. Clappison
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the answer of 12 November 2001,Official Report, column 570W, how many participants in the New Deal have received training through Ambition IT Initiative since January. 
§ Mr. Nicholas Brown
The Ambition initiatives are demand-led, and are aimed at training disadvantaged people for good quality jobs. The availability of jobs is key to their success. In the latter part of 2001 there was a reduction in the global workforce in the IT sector as a number of key companies scaled down their operations. At the same time, a number of American companies which employ people in the UK froze recruitment as a result of the events of 11 September. The Ambition: IT initiative was consequently put on hold in December 2001 so that the Department could conduct a review of the skills requirements of the IT sector in the UK.
The review has concluded that the demand for people with IT skills is now most acute in the public sector. The programme has therefore been refocused on this sector and we now expect to start new deal participants in training from this autumn.