Last-minute funding boost announced for Learning and Skills Council

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With just 6 days to go until its launch, the Learning and Skills Council is to benefit from yet another funding handout.

The Council will get an additional £6.4bn of funding in two years time, to be used to support further increases in participation by young people and adults in Further Education and spending on building improvements, including increasing disabled access. The government estimates that the creation of the LSC will affect 417 FE colleges, 1,800 schools and over 2000 private training providers. It will also affect the delivery of 17,000 qualifications from 4,000 awarding bodies.

Commenting on the impending launch, Education and Employment Secretary David Blunkett said: "Next Monday the Learning and Skills Council, the new organisation responsible for funding and planning post-16 learning, will go live. It is a major and historic reform that will provide the platform for achieving the vision of a learning society I set out in my introduction to The Learning Age Green Paper in 1998. The Council has a huge agenda to make a powerful and sustained effort to raise levels of skills and knowledge to world class standards."

Initial LSC activities will focus around promoting short courses, said Mr Blunkett: "The Council and its 47 local arms will be marking their first day of operation by promoting ‘bite size’ short courses to whet people’s appetites for further learning. This summer these courses will allow some 50 000 people to try learning without making a firm commitment to a full course of study. Colleges, employers, training providers and adult and community learning providers will offer short courses in IT, basic skills, leisure activities and occupational training opportunities relevant to local needs. Bite size courses will be an early demonstration of how the Councils can, by bringing together local partnerships in a national endeavour, begin to make a difference to learners by putting their needs first. I will make an additional £2m in 2001-02 available to the Council to support the costs of these short courses."

The LSC will have a budget of £5.5bn in its first year of operation, rising to £6.0bn the following year and £6.4bn the year after. The government's Internet boffins must be currently hard at work getting the site ready for Monday - when we checked the LSC website today, it couldn't be accessed!

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