One of the key policies to foster lifelong learning is delivering results more quickly than expected. Individual Learning Accounts, a scheme launched in September 2000 to give a package of discounts for courses, has attracted 1 million applicants, one year ahead of the target date. There is a steady flow of applications and 3000 new accounts are being opened every day.Learning Accounts are designed to improve skills and job prospects. They are available to anyone aged 19 or over. When applicants have received their Account Card they are able to claim a range of discounts. For courses such as computer literacy or introduction to maths, they are eligible for an 80 percent discount, up to a maximum of 200 pounds per year. For other courses they can claim up to a 20 percent discount up to a maximum of 100 pounds per year. At the end of each year account holders will receive a statement showing the outstanding balance of unused discounts.
One of the primary aims of the scheme is to attract people into learning who may not have considered it an option for improving job prospects. Since January more than half of the applicants had not been in learning in the last three years.
A White Paper, Opportunity for All in a World of Change, sets out the Government’s intention to consult on proposals to give statutory recognition to union learning representatives. This recognition will include new rights to reasonable paid time off for their initial training and for carrying out their duties. Union Learning Representatives are trained to give advice to members on lifleong learning issues and have been instrumental in encouraging workers to open learning accounts.