TrainingZONE influencing government, or art imitating life - you choose!

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We'd like to think TrainingZONE is up-to-date with the latest training initiatives, but we didn't think we were that good at predicting the future...until now!

You may recall that on 1 April, a story appeared on the site outlining the government's plans to pay you to learn. We reported that "at the HRD 2001 Conference, a senior goverment minister will announce a new programme which actually PAYS you and your staff to become involved in training and learning. The government is so concerned about the skills shortage that it is bringing forward proposals originally contained in the March 7 Budget but which attracted little attention at the time."

We had to confess at the time that the story was an April fool - indeed, it managed to catch more than a few TrainingZONE readers out! But perhaps we should have taken more heed of Alun Harvey's comments when he said "you should be careful repeating this kind of story, there are people out there who actually believe what this government says", because it seems the government have actually taken our plans on board!

Lifelong Learning Minister Malcolm Wicks and Education Minister Margaret Hodge have announced plans to give 'financial rewards' to those who complete basic skills training. Job seekers in Tyne and Wear will be able to claim an extra £10 a week in benefits when they sign up for basic skills training, and will receive an extra £100 payment when they finish their training.

The government is adopting a 'carrot and stick' approach to skills development for the unemployed, with job seekers in other parts of the country being penalised for refusing to undertake training to improve their basic skills. There'll also be other pilot schemes aimed at identifying those with basic skills needs earlier - it'll be interesting to see which scheme has the most success!

TrainingZONE would like the Ministers to know we're available for further consultation at very reasonable rates!

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