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Adult Education: Numeracy

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what recent steps the Government has taken to improve the numeracy skills of adults. [199832]

Mr. Lammy: On 17 March the Department, working with the Learning and Skills Council, launched the first phase of a new high-profile marketing campaign to encourage adults in England to improve their numeracy skills. In addition, the Department is working with the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics and a range of partners to develop a new plan for meeting the numeracy challenge. This plan, to be published in the coming months, will ensure increased demand, supply and quality of adult numeracy provision.

Good numeracy skills are crucial to life and work. Free numeracy courses are available to adults in England through the Government’s “Skills for Life” strategy, which was launched in 2001. We are currently committed to improving the numeracy and literacy skills of 2.25 million adults by 2010. So far, 1,759,000 adults have improved their skills and gained a first qualification, and we are on course to meet the 2010 target.

Our longer term ambition, as set out in “World Class Skills”, is for 95 per cent. of adults to have functional numeracy skills by 2020, up from 79 per cent. in 2005. To achieve this trajectory the Learning and Skills Council’s recent “Statement of Priorities” set out plans to deliver 390,000 numeracy achievements at Entry Level 3 or above during the period 2008 to 2011.

Adult Education: Offenders

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what the Government's policy is on the eligibility of ex-prisoners who have been released on licence at the end of their term in custody for adult learning grant; and if he will make a statement. [198561]

Mr. Lammy: Ex-prisoners, who have been released on licence at the end of their term in custody, are able to apply for the adult learning grant (ALG) subject to meeting the full eligibility criteria. The grant is primarily intended to help individuals in work with low skills and on low incomes; individuals receiving out of work benefits are not eligible for ALG. Participants must be undertaking full time learning for their first full Level 2 or first full Level 3 qualification. Serving prisoners who are released on temporary licence to attend college are not eligible for ALG.

The ‘on licence’ process helps offenders re-build their lives, return to their families and gain work. For those offenders wishing to gain qualifications, ALG can help support them in that learning. ALG has been available throughout England since September 2007 and during its pilot phase showed that it was successful at helping more individuals complete their training and gain a qualification.

Adult Education: Standards

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what performance indicators have been set to assess the (a) quality of
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customer service provided by the adult learning grant helpline and (b) efficiency of the processing of applications for adult learning grant; and if he will make a statement. [198563]

Mr. Lammy: Adult learning grant has been available throughout England since September 2007 and during its pilot phase showed that it was successful at helping more individuals raise their skill levels through completing their training and gaining a qualification, It is intended to help low skilled individuals in work on low incomes achieve their first full level 2 or first full level 3 qualification. The grant offers up to £30 per week.

The issues raised are matters for the Learning and Skills Council for England who administer the adult learning grant for the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills and have responsibility for the contract with the helpline, assessment and payment body, Mark Haysom, the Council's chief executive; will write to the hon. Gentleman with the information requested and a copy of his reply will be placed in the House Library.

Letter from Verity Bullough, dated 10 April 2008:

Area Applications received Applications accepted (awards) Applications refused Applications in progress

England

31,786

22,227

7,050

2,509

Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes

572

421

104

47



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Agriculture: Qualifications

Mr. McLoughlin: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what steps are being taken to promote agriculture-related degrees and further education qualifications. [195216]

Bill Rammell: Careers advice in schools and colleges provides information on the variety of routes into agriculture including apprenticeships, the Diploma in Land-based industries and Foundation Degrees, Lantra, the Sector Skills Council for the environmental and land-based sector, has a key role in supporting the development and promotion of education and training provision which meets the sector’s requirements. It is currently promoting the Year of Food and Farming, which offers children opportunities to experience farm activities and learn more about environmental issues related to food and the countryside.

Aimhigher Initiative

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills pursuant to the Answer of 25 February 2008, Official Report, column 1291W, on Aimhigher Initiative, what the reasons are for the change in expenditure levels on the aim higher programme. [195160]

Bill Rammell: In 2004-05, both the Higher Education Funding Council for England and the then Department for Education and Skills made additional, one-off, contributions to the Aimhigher budget. The funds were from underspends elsewhere, and amounted to over £25 million in total. In 2004, Ministers reviewed the programme and, in the light of the decision to introduce the Higher Education Grant, decided to reduce expenditure on Aimhigher to help fund the increases in student support, thereby providing more money directly to students from less well-off backgrounds. The growth in expenditure on student support was shown in the answer to Question 172276.

The Government remain committed to Aimhigher and recently announced its extension to 2011. The Government and HEFCE have together allocated £239.5 million for the three years. This represents a
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substantial investment and is an indication of our continuing commitment to widen participation in higher education in line with the country’s social and economic needs. More young people than ever before are applying to go to university. As of 15 January 2008, 311,741 people from England applied through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) for 2008 HE entry, an increase of 7.1 per cent. on the same point of the previous year. Of the 18-year-olds and under applying for whom social class background is known, 28.9 per cent. are from lower socio-economic groups, up from 28.2 per cent. in 2007.

Apprentices

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what assessment he has made of recent trends in the take-up of apprenticeships. [197971]

Mr. Lammy: The latest figures available for take-up of apprenticeships are for 2006/07 and show 180,000 starts compared to 2005/06 figures of 175,000.

This is a marked increase in apprenticeship starts and this improvement is also reflected in the improving completion rate which is currently 63 per cent.

World-class Apprenticeships looked at current trends in the context of expanding provision and we aim to build on the outcomes and improve the quality of apprenticeship provision and the apprenticeship experience for young people and adults.

Apprentices: Death

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many fatalities occurred during training for apprenticeships in 2006-07. [199922]

Mr. Lammy: There was one fatality on apprenticeships in 2006/07.

Apprentices: Employment

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills in which 10 professions where an apprenticeship scheme is in operation employment shortages were highest in the last period for which figures are available. [200064]

Mr. Lammy: Information about employment shortages by apprenticeship framework is not available.

Apprentices: Foreigners

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what estimate he has made of the number of people in apprenticeships who are not UK nationals; and if he will make a statement. [199921]

Mr. Lammy: Information about the nationality of people on apprenticeships is not collected centrally by the Learning and Skills Council or the Department. Individual employers and training providers may hold nationality and other information to ensure people have the right to work in this country.


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Apprentices: Unemployment

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills in which 10 professions rates of unemployment of those completing an apprenticeship were highest in the last period for which figures are available. [200040]

Mr. Lammy: There are no reliable estimates available. However, using the Annual Population Survey it is possible to calculate approximate estimates of the unemployment rates for those who hold an apprenticeship for various occupational groups. The following table shows for those holding an apprenticeship estimates for 2006 for the 10 minor occupational groupings with the highest unemployment rates. It should be noted that the
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apprenticeship may have been gained at any point in the respondents’ working life and therefore will include many old trade apprenticeships. The occupation groupings are based on current job (if employed) and last job (if unemployed) and these may not be the same as the occupation grouping of the apprenticeship held. The analysis is for England and covers females aged 19-59 and males aged 19-64. These estimates are based on small samples and are not robust as the confidence intervals shown in the table make clear.

Taking all those holding an apprenticeship does provide robust estimates and for 2006 the ILO unemployment rate for those holding an apprenticeship was 2.8 per cent. compared with 4.8 per cent. for all adults aged 19-59/64.

10 minor occupational groupings( 1) with highest ILO unemployment rates( 2) for people( 3) holding an apprenticeship (Annual Population Survey, England, 2008)
95 per cent. confidence interval for unemployment rate
Occupation group Unemployment rate Lower bound Upper bound

Managers in Hospitality and Leisure

9.9

3.7

16.2

Sales Related Occupations

9.5

3.0

16.0

IT Service Delivery Occupations

9.3

1.4

17.2

Assemblers and Routine Operatives

8.8

4.7

12.9

Elementary Personal Service Occupations

8.1

2.8

13.4

Financial Institution and Office Managers

7.5

1.2

13.9

Customer Service Occupations

7.3

1.3

13.3

Mobile Machine Drivers and Operatives

6.7

1.4

11.9

Elementary Administration Occupations

6.5

1.5

11.4

Elementary Process Plant Occupations

6.4

2.0

10.9

(1) Based on Standard Occupational Classification 2000.
(2) Defined as the unemployed as a percentage of the economically active (employed plus unemployed).
(3) Females aged 19-59 and males aged 19-64.

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