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Level 2 Skills

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment she has made of the cost benefit to the economy of training to level 2 those adults who lack skills at level 2. [25126]

Phil Hope: A range of independent academic research has shown that there is a link between skills and economic performance and that the UK's relatively poor skills profile contributes to our productivity gap with other countries. Research has also identified a range of benefits from raising qualification levels for the individual, the employer, the economy and society.

Those adults not qualified to at least level 2 are at a greater disadvantage in the labour market in terms of both their earnings and their employment chances. Individuals' attitudes towards learning and participation in learning improve once they reach level 2.

The key evidence supporting the focus on raising adults to at least a level 2 is set out in the Government's recent Skills White Papers; Skills: getting on in business, getting on at work" and 21st Century Skills, Realising Our Potential" and the Skills Strategy Progress Report; Skills Strategy—Technical Supplement on Underlying data and Evidence", copies of which will be placed in the House Libraries.

New Deal for Young People

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what estimate she has made of the impact on training providers of the removal of the training and subsidised job options from the new deal for young people; and if she will make a statement. [25203]

Margaret Hodge: I have been asked to reply.

No options have been removed from the new deal for young people. The full time education and training option which offers people an opportunity to improve their education and skills, and the employment option which offers subsidies to employers who take on new deal participants are still available.

Our aim is to ensure that all new deal participants have access to the full range of programme options. We will continue to ensure that support through the new deal will be available to those customers who need the most help and support, regardless of where they live and we have adjusted some regional budget allocations this year to ensure that we deliver our overall priorities.

Regional Skills Bureaucracy

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps she will take to ensure overlap does not occur in their work in relation to skills of the regional development agencies, the sector skills councils, the regional skills partnerships and the proposed Learning and Skills Council regional centres. [28760]

Phil Hope: The Skills White Paper, 21st Century Skills: Realising Our Potential", invited Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) to lead the establishment of Regional Skills Partnerships (RSPs). These bring together the RDA, the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) and Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) with other regional partners to plan and co-ordinate the
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provision of skills and business support that reflects the priorities of the Regional Economic Strategy. Each partner has their own distinctive role. RDAs are responsible for economic development and are the keepers of the Regional Economic Strategy of which skills are a part. Sector Skills Councils provide information on the skills needs of employers, and the Learning and Skills Council uses that information to inform decisions on the supply of training provision. The LSC's recent announcement to strengthen their regional centres will enable them co-ordinate work more effectively with RDAs, Sector Skills Councils and Regional Skills Partnerships.

School Work (Marking)

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what advice is offered by her Department to schools on best practice in the marking of pupils' work. [28305]

Jacqui Smith: It is for schools to formulate their own policy on the marking of pupils' work. The Department, through the National Strategies' Assessment for Learning programme, helps teachers to understand how best to identify pupils' individual learning needs and to determine next steps in their learning. This includes some guidance on the use of written feedback and best practice in the marking of pupils' work.

Sexual Health

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether she plans to publish the findings of the pilot study in Sheffield for the Working Together to Safeguard Children protocols on sexual health. [28248]

Beverley Hughes: If Sheffield Area Child Protection Committee is conducting a pilot study into its protocol on Working with Sexually Active Young People under the Age of 18, it is a matter for the committee whether it publishes the findings of any such study.

Union Learning Fund

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what percentage of the courses funded through the Union Learning Fund are (a) basic skills courses, (b) level 1 and level 2 courses and (c) level 3 and above courses; [28579]

(2) what percentage of the courses funded through the Union Learning Fund take under nine hours. [28580]

Phil Hope: The Union Learning Fund is a source of funding to help trade unions boost their capacity as learning organisations and use their influence with employers, employees and learning providers to encourage greater take-up of learning in the workplace. It is not used to provide funding for courses. It enables trade unions and their union learning representatives to provide advice, guidance and support to workers to help them access existing learning opportunities to improve their skill levels.

Earlier evaluations of the Union Learning Fund (copies of which are in the House of Commons Library) indicate that trade unions have been successful in engaging non-traditional learners including older males,
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people from minority ethnic groups and shift workers. An estimated 80 per cent. of those helped to access a learning opportunity had qualifications below NVQ level 2 or equivalent.

A further evaluation of the Union Learning Fund is currently under way to assess the impact of the fund on trade unions, employers and individual learners. It will include a large scale survey of learners which will provide information on the different types and levels of courses that individuals have accessed as a result of support from the Union Learning Fund. The final report is due to be published next summer and a copy will be placed in the House Libraries.

Youth Work Projects

Mr. Malik: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will establish a cross-Government working group (a) to review, in partnership with the National Youth Agency and others, existing local youth work projects which promote community cohesion and (b) to consider the merits of developing an action plan on responsibilities. [26682]

Maria Eagle: There is already a cross-Government strategy—Improving Opportunity, Strengthening Society—which brings together measures across Government to increase race equality and promote community cohesion. Work with young people is an integral part of the strategy.

Youth work can play an important part in promoting community cohesion. My officials are already working closely with the National Youth Agency on ideas for building the capacity of the youth work sector in relation to community cohesion.


Carbon Management Programme

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether his Department will sign up to the Carbon Trust's Carbon Management programme. [23732]

Mr. Plaskitt: The Department for Work and Pensions works in collaboration with its PFI Estates Partners, Land Securities Trillium, to install energy efficiency measures across the estate. Examples of projects undertaken are the installation of energy saving devices for white goods and vending machines, improved pipe work insulation and Passive Infrared Detectors for hot-water points. Energy efficiency is also integral to the replacement of equipment at the end of its life cycle, and we are examining the potential for early replacement for obviously inefficient equipment. Improved meter reading systems are also being implemented to provide up to date information to facilitate better energy management. In addition, 60 per cent. of our electricity is now generated from either renewable or Combined Heat and Power sources. Together, these initiatives have reduced the estate's carbon emissions by 30 per cent. over the past seven years.

Initial contact has been made with the Carbon Trust about our joining the Carbon Management programme and a meeting to discuss this is being set up.
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