Select Committee on Work and Pensions Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary memorandum submitted by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) (ES 13B)


Area of
PurposeAims and targets Budget and delivery
National Childcare StrategyTo ensure that affordable, accessible and quality childcare is available in every neighbourhood. There is a particular focus on three areas:

—Extending provision in disadvantaged areas and reducing the "childcare gap" between those areas and more affluent ones;

—Supporting the Welfare to Work objectives of increasing employment and decreasing unemployment by ensuring provision for parents, particularly lone parents; and

—Promoting the development of integrated early education, childcare and other family support programmes.
Targets for March 2004 include:

—Creating 900,000 new childcare places for 1.6 million children which, taking into account turnover, should allow around 1 million extra children to benefit from childcare in England alone;

—Realising the ambition that there should be a childcare place for every lone parent entering employment in the most disadvantaged areas; and
Funding will have trebled from £66 million in 2000-01 to over £200 million in 2003-04, with an additional £155 million from the New Opportunities Fund for provision in disadvantaged areas.

Key delivery partners are the Early Years Development and Childcare Partnerships (EYDCPs).
Learning and Skills Council (LSC)The LSC is the lead body responsible for the planning and funding of post 16 learning and skills outside Higher Education in England. Its remit includes:

—Improving quality and raising standards;

—Education and training of young people;

—Supporting adult learners;

—Supporting workforce development, improving skills and raising productivity.

Further detail of the LSC's role is in a separate memorandum submitted to the Select Committee
The LSC's key targets for 2004 are:

—80 per cent of 16-18 year olds in structured learning

—85 per cent of young people to reach level 2 by age 19

—55 per cent of young people to reach level 3 by age 19

—raise the level of literacy and numeracy skills of 750,000 adults (see below)

—52 per cent of adults to reach level 3
The LSC spent around £5.3 billion in 2001-02. Its budget rises to over £7.3 billion in 2002-03 when the LSC takes responsibility for sixth form funding and £7.8 billion in 2003-04. The budget for 2002-03 includes £3.9 billion for Youth Programmes and just under £2.6 billion for Adult Learning. The LSC is responsible for a number of programmes covered below.
Adult Basic Skills StrategySkills for Life, the national strategy for improving adult literacy and numeracy, was launched in March 2001. The strategy has four main themes: boosting demand, ensuring the capacity to deliver, improving quality, increasing learner achievement Improving the basic skills of 750,000 adults by 2004. In 2000-01 some £241 million was spent on literacy and numeracy provision. By 2003-04 this will increase to £403 million. Most of this funding is through the Learning and Skills Council. In addition Jobcentre Plus and the Prison Service have funds for basic skills provision.
Through its learndirect network, UfI Limited is a significant catalyst for change in the lifelong learning market.

UfI/learndirect currently commission and develop a range of learning materials, operate a network of over 1,600 learndirect centres and operate the national information and advice service. This includes a free and impartial telephone helpline and the learndirect website. Since the helpline was set up in 1998, it has receives over four million enquiries.

UfI/learndirect currently provide over 590 courses, over 77 per cent of them online. In 2001-02, over 246,000 learners enrolled on over 570,000 learndirect courses.
To work with partners to boost people's employability and organisations' productivity and competitiveness by:

—Inspiring existing learners to develop their skills further;

—Winning over new and excluded learners; and

—Transforming the accessibility of learning in everyday life and work.
£76 million was allocated to UfI/learndirect in 2001-02.
Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) for Adults IAG services for adults provide free information and advice to adults in England. Key priorities of the programme are to:

—Ensure provision of a co-ordinated local network of IAG opportunities in learning and work;

—Ensure that all members of the community have access to information and advice services;

—Ensure IAG standards meet the quality standard for learning and work.
From April 2001, funding and planning IAG services became a core responsibility of the Learning and Skills Council (LSC). Some £23 million was spent in 2001-02 on IAG.
Investors in People (IiP)Investors in People (IiP) is a national standard, which aims to improve organisational performance through the development of people. The standard is maintained, developed and promoted by Investors in People (UK); the Learning and Skills Council working with IiP UK and Business Links work to ensure effective delivery of the IiP standard to organisations. There are national targets for Investors in People for December 2002:

—10,000 organisations with 10-49 employees; and

—45 per cent of organisations with 50+ employees

should be recognised as Investors in People
The LSC spent some £48 million in 2001-02 on supporting delivery of the IiP standard to organisations.
Union Learning FundThe Union Learning Fund (ULF) was established in 1998 to help trade unions support the Government's objective of creating a learning society by encouraging the take up of learning in the workplace The ULF is designed to encourage greater take-up of learning at work and boost the capacity of employers as learning organisations. There are now 3250+ Union Learning Representatives promoting learning in the workplace and key results are:

—14,000 people have completed courses through the ULF

—3,250 union learning representatives have received training

—160 accredited courses and qualifications have been established
Around £8 million was spent in 2001-02 and the budget continues at around that level up to 2003-04.
Centres of Vocational ExcellenceCentres of Vocational Excellence (COVEs) are designed to play a key role in enabling Further Education colleges and other providers of training to be more sharply focused on meeting the skills needs of employers. The programme has been developed and is managed by the Learning and Skills Council. The original target of the programme is that by 2004 half of all general further education colleges (around 150 colleges) will have developed CoVEs. This has now been extended with funding from the Capital Modernisation Fund to develop an additional 50 CoVEs in the Further Education (FE) sector and 50 non college CoVEs. £100 million was originally made available for the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) to implement CoVEs in the FE sector over the three years to 2004. This has been supplemented by £40 million from the Capital Modernisation Fund, underpinned by £17.75 million from the LSC's existing resources, to extend the programme.
Sector Skills Councils—Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) are new influential employer bodies, licensed by Government that will lead the drive to significantly improve skills and productivity in industry and business sectors throughout the UK

—SSCs are experts on their sectors and understand the key drivers influencing sector development and the implications for the demand, supply and use of skills

—SSCs will be working with employers, trade unions, Government and other partners to deliver key skills and productivity priorities to improve business competitiveness and public services performance

—SSCs are underpinned by the Sector Skills Development Agency which was established on 1 April 2002 to develop the network of SSCs and promote effective working between sectors.
SSCs have four key goals to deliver across the UK:

—A reduction of skills gaps and shortages and anticipation of future needs

—An improvement in productivity, business and public services performance;

—Increased opportunities to develop and improve the productivity of everyone in the sector's workforce, including action to address equality and support inward investment and other economic development opportunities

—An improvement in the quality and relevance of public learning supply, including the development of apprenticeships, higher education and of national occupational standards
Each SSC will receive up to £1 million core funding per annum and have access to innovation funding to supplement employer investment to tackle skills and productivity priorities.
Employer Training PilotsThese pilots were announced in the Chancellor's Budget statement and will run in six local LSC areas: Birmingham and Solihull, Derbyshire, Essex, Greater Manchester, Tyne and Wear, and Wiltshire. They will start in September 2002 and finish a year later in August 2003.

In each pilot area, the Learning and Skills Council will identify volunteer employers. The employer will release low-skilled employees during working time to achieve basic skills such as literacy and numeracy, or a national vocational qualification at level 2.

Employers may come from the private, public or voluntary sectors. The pilots are targeted particularly at small employers and those who have not been involved in training towards qualifications.
Within the pilots the Learning and Skills Council will offer employers:

—tailored information, advice and guidance;

—free training course and assessment;

—compensation for the wage costs of trainees for their time off for training and assessment, whether at a college, with a private training provider or in the workplace.
£40 million pilot scheme for 16,000 low-skilled employees to improve their skills. The LSC will manage the pilots.
Prisoners' Learning and SkillsThe Prisoners' Learning and Skills Unit (PLSU) was set up in April 2001 to support a new partnership between the Prison Service and the Department for Education and Skills. Prison education funding is now ringfenced and jointly administered by the Home Office and DfES.

New qualifications targets in basic skills at all levels were announced on 15 May—revised to make them more responsive to the full range of prisoners' learning needs. PLSU monitors performance against these targets on a monthly basis, and provides support to individual establishments in meeting them.

The Unit aims to raise standards and learner achievement by bringing developments in mainstream provision into prisons. This includes piloting new curriculum standards in basic skills, and ensuring that provision meets national standards by introducing the Common Inspection Framework into prisons along with a national strategy to support continuous improvement in prisons.
The Prison Service has in place targets for prisoners to achieve 28,800 basic skills qualifications at all levels in 2002-03 rising to 32,000 in 2003-04. These targets figure in the National Skills for Life Strategy and are key performance targets for prisons. They were revised in May 2002 to reflect better the range of prisoners' learning needs. The prison education budget is set to rise from £57 million in 2001-02 to £87 million by 2003-04. The budget funds the purchase of education provision from external contractors, the purchase of educational materials, library provision and central development projects. There are currently around 28 contractors delivering education in 139 prisons.

  Note: Further information on the Department for Education and Skills Programmes and Priorities is available in its Departmental Report covering expenditure plans for 2002-03 to 2003-04 (Cmd 5402); and in Education and Skills: Delivering Results—A Strategy to 2006.

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