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Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Reading, East of 3 September 2007, Official Report, column 1756W, on graduates: debt, (1) what assessment he has made of the effect of course choice on the average amount of time needed by (a) male and (b) female students in higher education to repay debts incurred during study; 
(2) what assumptions about (a) the gender pay gap, (b) fertility, (c) nuptuality, (d) real earnings growth and (e) graduate income premium he made in estimating the average amount of time needed by graduates to repay debts incurred during study by (i) men and (ii) women. 
Bill Rammell: We estimate that a male student who entered higher education in 2006/07 will take an average of 11 years to repay their student loan. We estimate that this will be 16 years for a female. These periods are counted from the statutory repayment due date, which is the April following the year of graduation.
The calculations are based on assumptions about graduate lifetime earnings, derived from the British Household Panel Survey and the Labour Force Survey. The calculations therefore take account of earnings growth due to career progression, gender, age and periods spent unemployed or inactive for other reasons such as having children. Real earnings growth for the graduate population as a whole is assumed to be 1.95pp above inflation.
Separate analysis of the benefits of higher education estimates that over the working life, the average net graduate earnings premium is comfortably over £100,000 in today's valuation, compared to what a similar individual would have earned if they just had A- levels.
Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what the purpose is of the Intercalating Year Abroad fee; what method is used for calculating the Intercalating Year Abroad fee; and if he will make a statement. 
Bill Rammell [holding answer 22 November 2007]: English higher education institutions are permitted, under the Education (Student Support) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007 No, 176) to charge a tuition fee for a student studying abroad for a year as part of their degree course, of up to half the maximum fee for other home undergraduates. The amount actually charged is a matter for the institution. Students who spend a full academic year abroad on the European Commission's Erasmus scheme have their tuition fees waived for that year. This information applies to England only.
Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what guidance his Department provides to universities on the nature, level and extent of services to be provided to students as consideration for the Intercalating Year Abroad fees levied. 
Bill Rammell [holding answer 22 November 2007]: Higher education institutions are autonomous and it is up to them to determine what services they offer to students during periods spent abroad as part of their course. These will vary according to the course the student is undertaking, and whether or not the student is on a work placement or is attending another university. Higher education institutions participating in the European Commission's Erasmus scheme must have the Erasmus university charter, a document outlining an institution's responsibilities under Erasmus. The British Council, who manage Erasmus in the UK, issue an operational handbook outlining the rules higher education institutions need to abide by.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what projections his Department has made of the numbers of students entering higher education in Romford over the next five years. 
Bill Rammell: The Government have a target to increase participation in higher education towards 50 per cent. of those aged 18-30 with growth of at least a percentage point every two years to the academic year 2010-11. The Government do not make projections about the number of students entering higher education from specific areas.
Mr. Rob Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills when the Government expect to meet their 50 per cent. participation rate target in university education for young people aged 18 to 30 years. 
Bill Rammell: Our long-term vision is that the UK should be a world leader on skills, in the upper quartile of OECD rankings by 2020, meeting the recommendations of the Leitch review. Consistent with that vision, we have set a long-term primary target to increase the proportion of the workforce with higher level skills from under 30 per cent. now to over 40 per cent. by 2020 and as a contribution towards that goal, a supporting, target to increase participation in higher education towards 50 per cent. of those aged 18-30 with growth of at least a percentage point every two years to the academic year 2010-11. The precise date on which we reach these targets will depend on the outcome of future spending reviews and on continuing to increase demand for higher education among people of all ages and backgrounds who would benefit from entering higher education. Our policies will therefore continue to increase and widen participation.
Mr. Lammy: The Department already has an Innovation Directorate led by Dr. David Evans, Director of Innovation (who the Secretary of State has asked to lead the work in preparing a science and innovation strategy for the Department.)
Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what assessment he has made of the types of learning required to help older people remain economically active; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Lammy: Older people are a hugely valued part of our society, contributing more and more in later life. Almost 8 million people over 50 work and age legislation means that age need no longer be a barrier to working, training or promotion. Our economic success is increasingly dependent on our older work force being as skilled and as productive as younger workers, but too many older workers do not have the basic literacy, numeracy and work place skills they need to succeed, and too few are engaging in education and training to change that.
Our strategy for World Class Skills sets bold targets and our reforms include supporting individuals, including older workers, into sustainable employment and progression in work and in skills. We are committed to ensuring equal opportunities for all learners. Our targets cover workers and learners of all ages and our reforms balance skills and economic prosperity with fairness and inclusion. We will give greater ownership and choice to individuals over their training through skills accounts backed up by a new universal adult careers service that will provide free skills health checks for people of any age at key stages in working life.
We are also working with employers through Train to Gain and the Skills Pledge to meet skill needs and to ensure that all employees including older people have
the basic skills, including literacy and numeracy and Level 2 skills (equivalent to five good GCSEs), needed to sustain and progress in employment. We are increasing funding for Train to Gain from £440 million in 2007/08 to over £900 million in 2010/11. We want to encourage all employers in England to make a Skills Pledge that is a specific promise that every eligible employee will be helped to gain basic skills and a full Level 2 qualification.
Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what steps he is taking to encourage more employers to work with trade unions on developing the Skills for Life programme. 
The Government make a contribution of £3 million each year to the Union Learning Fund to help develop a focus on Skills for Life within Union Learning Fund projects and to help give Union Learning Representatives (ULRs) the skills to support literacy, language and numeracy learners.
Our efforts to improve skills in the work force will be much more effective if they are delivered with the joint support of employers, learners and those, like trade unions, who can support learning. Through the Skills Pledge, we are encouraging employers to commit to addressing the skills needs of their employees and, in particular, people with poor basic skills and without a full Level 2 qualification.
We have a number of initiatives in place to encourage employers to address Skills for Life needs and to sign the Skills Pledge. In each case, we have encouraged partners to work with the TUC/Unionlearn to maximise the effectiveness of addressing skills needs.
We have been working with Business in the Community (BITC) to engage large, high-profile employers since 2003. BITC have recruited over 30 senior business leaders as Employer Champions for Skills for Life and have worked with over 150 major companies including, DHL, SERCO and VT Shipbuilding.
Since 2004, BITC have run an annual Skills for Life Award recognising best practice in delivering Skills for Life programmes. Each of the award winners, and many of the runner-up entrants, has delivered programmes in its organisation in partnership with relevant trade unions.
We are working with the Skills for Business network through Asset Skills as the lead Sector Skills Council on Skills for Life. Sector Skills Councils have a role in raising awareness of literacy, language and numeracy skills among the employers they represent, in supporting them in addressing needs within their footprint and in ensuring that qualifications reflect the literacy, language and numeracy requirements of their sectors. Asset Skills has recently signed a joint agreement with Unionlearn to support joint activity on Skills for Life.
Working with the Cabinet Office and Government Skills SSC, we want to raise basic skills levels across central Government and to influence the public sector more widely. Cabinet Office consults with the relevant unions on the approach to staff development across central Government and there are a number of examples where PCS has worked closely with central Government Departments on Skills for Lifefor example with the Department for Work and Pensions and Inland Revenue.
Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what assessment he has made of the effect on employers of their working with trades unions to improve the skills of their work forces. 
Mr. Lammy [holding answer 22 November 2007]: In recent years, with the help of the Union Learning Fund (ULF), trade unions and their Union Learning Representatives have been really successful in working with employers to raise skill levels in the workplace. There are now over 18,000 trained Union Learning reps who have helped over 400,000 workers back into learning since ULF was introduced in 1988. Over 150,000 last year alone, many of whom were Skills for Life learners, those most in need of new skills who employers and training providers find it so difficult to reach.
An evaluation of the Union Learning Fund (2001-05) which surveyed a range of employers involved in ULF, showed that almost two-thirds of those employers who responded had a learning agreement in place as a result of ULF and 75 per cent. reported an increase in Skills for Life learning.
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills whether a formal assessment was made of the quality of student representation provided by the National Union of Students before the decision to establish the National Student Forum was taken. 
Bill Rammell: The Government are strongly committed to a new style of politics and citizen engagement. We are ambitious to find new ways to engage the British people in the policy-making process through informed debate.
The Forum will not duplicate or attempt to replace the work of student representative bodies, of which the NUS is one, but will provide a new and complementary way for students to engage with policy-makers nationally. Therefore, the quality of existing representative groups is not at issue. We greatly value the representation and advocacy work of the National Union of Students, unlike the last Government who sought to decimate the NUS through the introduction of voluntary membership of student unions, and it is one of our key partners in the creation of the Forum. The Forum is intended to provide students from a wide range of personal and academic backgrounds with direct access to Government and policy-making agencies, giving a greater voice to students at a national level.
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills whether there is a funding gap for work to research and develop a new tuberculosis vaccine being undertaken in the UK, with reference to the answer of 23 May 2007, Official Report, column 1340W on tuberculosis: vaccination. 
Ian Pearson: The Medical Research Council (MRC) has recognised the need to increase funding for translational research into new vaccines, including vaccines against tuberculosis, and has made £3.5 million available in 2007-08 for such research.
Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills who is responsible for providing information on training places for adults to (a) employers and (b) jobseekers. 
Mr. Lammy: Many employers already train their staff to a high degree and do not require any support in identifying training opportunities. For those employers who are unclear of where to turn we have established the Train to Gain service. Skills brokers support employers to understand their skills needs and then provide a detailed plan of how to meet those needs, including a choice of provider offering training places, often delivered on the employers premises. In addition, many training providers offer advice and support to local businesses on training places.
DWP colleagues advise that currently, Jobcentre Plus customers can access information, advice and guidance on training opportunities from NextStep, LearnDirect and, in some locations, skills coaches funded by the LSC.
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many skills brokers working through the Train to Gain programme received public funding in 2006-07; what their performance targets were; how many and what value of payments were related to their performance; and how their performance was assessed and measured. 
Mr. Lammy: There are around 450 Train to Gain skills brokers working in England for the LSC. Skills brokers' performance targets for 2006-07 were 47,770 employer engagements, of which at least 51 per cent. had to be "hard to reach". We define hard-to-reach as employers that are not IiP recognised and have not accessed substantial vocational training leading to a qualification within the last 12 months. The interim data for 2006-07 indicate that there were 52,370 engagements of which 72 per cent. were categorised as "hard to reach".
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills (1) how much was spent on Train to Gain brokers in 2006-07; and what percentage of the Train to Gain budget for that year this figure represents; 
Mr. Lammy: Train to Gain is a new service that has just completed its first year of full national operation. In that time it has engaged more than 52,000 employers and resulted in more than 240,000 learners commencing training, many for the first time in their adult careers. More than 70 per cent. of the employers engaged by skills brokers are classified as hard to reach (not IiP accredited and no recorded investment at a publicly funded training provider). The total budget for Train to Gain was £288 million of which £25.4 million (8.8 per cent. of the budget) was allocated to skills brokerage. This figure included many one-off set up costs associated with this new mechanism for engaging with employers. The overall budget for Train to Gain has increased to £430 million with expenditure on skills brokers remaining constant at around £24 million (5.8 per cent. of the budget). From April 2009, skills brokerage will be integrated with the information, diagnostic and brokerage services delivered through Business Link.
Mr. Lammy: The Skills Pledge is a voluntary public commitment by the leadership of a company or organisation to support all its employees to develop their basic skills including literacy and numeracy, and work towards relevant valuable qualifications to at least level 2 (equivalent to five good GCSEs). If companies or organisations want to go beyond this and extend the commitment to help staff gain wider skills and additional qualifications as well that is welcome. The Skills Pledge is open to all employers in England.
As at November 2007, the available information indicated that there were six companies or organisations in Oxfordshire which have signed the Skills Pledge. We do not collect separate information on companies or organisations.
Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many Train to Gain places have been made available in the (a) Banbury and (b) Oxford travel to work areas. 
Mr. Lammy: Train to Gain is a major aspect of the drive to create a demand-led service and does not generate places in the traditional sense. Through Train to Gain, employers can access the advice and support they need to help them identify and then meet the skills their businesses need to succeed. We do not collect information on travel to work areas. In the first year of its operation, there were a total of 853 learners funded through Train to Gain in the wards of Banbury and Oxford. The breakdown was as follows: Banbury 433, East Oxford 302 and West Oxford 118.
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