Headlines: May 7th, 2002

The TUC has welcomed a House of Commons select committee report on the ill-fated Individual Learning Accounts concept and has offered a way ahead for re-launching the system.Individual Learning Accounts (ILAs) were launched by the Department of Education and Skills as a way of encouraging adults to take up lifelong learning.

Wide access was offered to money set aside in ‘accounts’ for people to spend on a wide range of learning activities.

But they had to be suspended, partly because so many people accessed them, and partly because of the level of fraud involved by rogue providers.

The House of Commons Education & Skills Select Committee now says that any replacement system needs more targeting of people and courses, and a system of accrediting training providers.

The TUC says that ILAs proved there is a big market for adult learning. It says it now needs to be targeted at adults with low or no qualifications. It also says the system appears to have worked best where a ‘trusted intermediary’ such as a TUC learning rep, guides adults to the right course for them.

The TUC is one of those organisations the DfES will be consulting over the successor programme. The DfES is promising to share with other departments what it learns from this process, and is continuing to work with the police over outstanding fraud cases.