HC Deb 27 October 2003 vol 412 cc128-9WS
Mr. Beggs

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the organisation of(a) revised individual learning accounts and (b) career development loans in Northern Ireland. [132787]

Jane Kennedy

The information is as follows:

Individual learning accounts

You will be aware that provision was not made in the Northern Ireland budget for a replacement ILA scheme in the 2003–04 financial year. The development work on a replacement individual learning account (ILA) scheme will be taken account of in the light of the Review of Further Education and the development of the Skills Strategy. Consequently, the provision of adult learning in Northern Ireland will be reviewed in line with the recommendations contained in both documents. Despite the much-publicised difficulties with individual learning accounts, the approach proved popular and successful with learners and, for this reason, I anticipate that the model will be considered alongside other funding support mechanisms in the review of adult learning.

Career development loans

Work to date has indicated that the scale of potential demand in Northern Ireland for Career Development Loans Scheme renders a separate local arrangement unviable. Representatives from the Department have been in liaison with their counterparts in Great Britain to ascertain how we can work together to determine how Career Development Loans can be introduced into Northern Ireland. Great Britain has embarked upon a major review of adult learning that includes Career Development Loans. In light of this, I have asked the Department to keep abreast of developments, and await the outcome of the major review work prior to embarking on detailed plans to extend the GB scheme here.