Education and Employment Secretary David Blunkett has announced that the number of people signing up for an Individual Learning Account has reached the 1 million mark.
David Baldwin, a 37-year-old factory worker from Watford, who opened the landmark account, met with David Blunkett today at the opening of the 1,000th learndirect centre in West London.
Despite concern from the Institute of Public Policy Research that the accounts would fail to attract those who could most benefit from them, interest in the scheme has been widespread since it was launched last summer. Take-up has been lowest in the North East, with just 44,000 accounts opened compared to an average of 100,000 around the rest of the country. The government had thought it would take another year to reach this level of take-up. Capita Group have been administering the accounts since last June, since when they've handled 750,000 new applications.
Mr Blunkett said: "ILAs are a success story, with an average of 3,000 accounts being opened each day. More than half the people who have opened an ILA since January had not been in learning in the last three years. This is proof that ILAs are achieving the aim to make learning more affordable and accessible. They play their part in encouraging people to take responsibility for their own learning and development."
Although initially the first 1 million people to sign up were entitled to the £150 contibution towards their training, a DfEE spokesperson told TrainingZONE the contribution is being extended, because funding was initially made available until next year. An additional 20 per cent discount worth up to £100 continues to be available for a number of courses, with up to 80 per cent discounts on offer for some IT or maths courses. More information is available on the ILA website at www.my-ila.com.
After some teething trouble, TrainingZONE successfully opened an account last summer. You can read about our experiences at: