A tale of Individual Learning Accounts: chapter two

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15th Aug 2000
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Last week, TrainingZONE reported that it had become the proud owner of an Indvidual Learning Account. All very straightforward, so far, we found, having completed an application form and received a card forthwith. It was then a case of ringing the hotline and establishing whether we could find a course which suited our needs - in this case, a part-time course in Journalism (well, as we well know, there are always things to learn!) An extremely helpful and eager to please woman on the LearnDirect helpline managed to locate several potential classes which would suit, and was able to supply contact details and at least rudimentary information about the course in question. TrainingZONE rang the supplier, and got a glossy booklet in return. Great, it sounded just the ticket.

Well, now the fun begins. We tried the helpline for the Individual Learning Account Centre on 0800 072 5678, asking for information about how we go about earning our £150 contribution the government has promised the first 1 million people to sign up. Said the woman on the phone; "well, what it is, is...." - not a particularly good start! Try the learning provider, she said - they'll know what to do. Okay....

We rang the learning provider, who said that yes, we could book up, but would have to get back to us about the Learning Account. No, they said, it's the ILA centre you want, they'll be able to tell you about how to arrange the funding...

So back again to the ILA centre. Just how do we get hold of the elusive £150 allowance - maybe it's a ploy to enable the government to save a few quid by making it really awkward to get to the funds? The woman at the ILA centre said that, actually, it was a matter for the learning provider, and that we needed to give them our learning account number. They would then have to contact the ILA centre in Darlington to arrange for the funds to be sent. In the meantime, TrainingZONE should send its own £25 contribution to the learning provider.

The cheque is in the post, as they say, with the booking form. TrainingZONE has a feeling that this won't be the last phone call we have to make, or letter we receive from or to the learning provider and the ILA centre.

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