|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Mr. Simon: The first year of skills accounts trials began in 29 September 2008 in two LSC regions, South East and East Midlands, and national trials will begin in September 2009. The aim of the regional trials is to develop and test a high quality experience for users, rather than maximise volumes. This means there are no targets for the number of individuals registering for a skills account as part of the trial. As part of the preparation for national roll-out from 2010/11 we will model expected volumes while ensuring skills accounts meet the needs of users.
As of 20 March, a total of 10,823 individuals had opened a skills account. Of these 7,905 had done so via the Careers Advice Service, 1,864 via the web and 1,054 via one of accredited learning providers in the trial regions.
Mr. Simon: The first year of skills accounts trials began in 29 September 2008 in two LSC regions, South East and East Midlands, and national trials will begin in September 2009. The aim of the regional trials is to develop and test a high quality experience for users, rather than maximise volumes. This means there are no targets for the number of individuals registering for a skills account as part of the trial. As part of the preparation for national roll-out from 2010/11 we will model expected volumes whilst ensuring skills accounts meet the needs of users.
At this stage we are not collect data on the number of hits on the skills accounts website (accessed via DirectGov) as the system is continuing to develop. An evaluation of the trial will capture detailed reflections about the user experience. When development of the system is complete we will put in place ways of evaluating the frequency of visits to the website and how the tools on it are used.
Managing Information Across Partners (MIAP) provides a set of services in support of the Transformational Government Agenda. It is about streamlining and improving how information on learners and learning is used within the education and training sectors so that excellent services are made available to individuals, employers and their communities.
MIAP offers three internet-based services: a provider- facing Learner Registration Service which assigns a unique learner number to everyone over the age of 14 in education and training; a learner-facing Learner Record Service which is in development, and which uses the unique learner number to enable learner access to their lifelong learning records for the very first time; and a UK Register of Learning Providers, which supports the sharing of learning provider information and brokerage. These services are supported by best practice data sharing protocols in line with data protection legislation.
The UKRLP lists over 22,000 learning and training providers. These records provide details of individual training organisations, and the services they provide, along with links to other information such as inspection reports.
Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills which training courses were (a) available to and (b) taken up by (i) civil servants and (ii) Ministers in his Department in the last 12 months. 
Mr. Simon: The Department primarily offers a range of learning and development opportunities to employees linked to the Professional Skills for Government agenda and its business and improvement objectives. The programmes include: Leadership; Policy Development Skills; Strategic Thinking; Analysis and Use of Evidence; Programme and Project Management; Contract Management; Financial Management; People Management; and Drafting and Writing Skills. Courses can be off-the-job training, e-learning or access to a range of learning and coaching materials. Information about employee learning and development take-up is not held centrally and a search of local records could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
Foreign language lessons
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills if he will make it his policy to issue guidance to post-16 specialist colleges on the (a) funding available for capital projects to be undertaken by such colleges and (b) application process for such funding. 
Mr. Simon: The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) is responsible for the administration of the further education (FE) capital programme, which includes capital allocations to post-16 specialist colleges. The LSC is subsequently responsible for the management of the programme and for the issuing of any associated guidance.
We need to understand how the current serious problems arose and what lessons must be learned for the future operation and delivery of the FE capital programme, particularly within the context of the new Machinery of Government arrangements.
Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what steps his Department is taking to ensure that the distribution of research funding maximises the potential to assist small and medium-sized science-based and manufacturing enterprises located close to research universities. 
Mr. Lammy: Research funding for universities is allocated on the basis of excellence and not proximity to businesses. And whilst there is no support specifically targeting businesses located close to research universities, Government do provide support through a range of programmes to help businesses meet the challenges they face in starting up, running and growing their operations.
The Technology Strategy Board and its partners provide support for businesses through a number of mechanisms including collaborative R and D, which supports joint projects between business and academia; networking to help industry access knowledge and information central to innovation growth; and through knowledge transfer partnerships, which support the transfer of knowledge from academia to a business through the transfer of people.
Innovation vouchers, announced in the 2008 Innovation Nation White Paper, are also a means to help small businesses benefit from the expertise offered by the research base. The voucher is used by the business to buy services such as specialist advice from a knowledge- based institution of their choice.
Grant for research and development, available regionally through the English regional development agencies, provides grants of up to £500,000 to help small and medium sized businesses to research and develop technologically innovative products and processes. DIUS is also working with RDAs to adopt a new national framework for proof of concept support to provide a tailored package of support that may include funding, access to facilities, networks and mentoring, and help for businesses to become investment ready.
Sammy Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what steps the Government are taking to increase the uptake of science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses in universities by British students. 
Mr. Lammy: The Government are committed to increasing the number of young people studying science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects post-16 and in higher education. The Department is working closely with the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) on STEM skills to ensure that teaching and learning of science in schools is sufficiently interesting and challenging to inspire more able pupils to pursue STEM subjects in higher education and beyond.
DCSF is investing £140 million to support the STEM agenda in schools in England. The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has undertaken a £350 million programme of work to support strategically important and vulnerable subjects which include STEM and additional funding of £75 million to support the high costs of some science subjects.
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many complaints have been made against the Student Loans Company for its use of bailiffs in error in cases where former students have not defaulted on their payments in the last 12 months. 
Mr. Lammy: The Student Loans Company (SLC) employs debt collectors where borrowers persistently fail to respond to SLCs attempts to contact them by telephone or letter. SLC does not employ bailiffs for the purposes of debt collection. However, if SLCs debt collectors also fail and SLC proceeds to litigate, the courts engage bailiffs to serve papers or to enforce county court judgments.
The SLC does not maintain statistics for this category of complaint. Generic complaints about the use of debt collectors by the SLC amounted to 37 cases in the last 12 months, which is a small percentage of the cases managed by debt collectors.
In all cases, the borrower was in default when the debt collector approached them. The only reported exception was the case of a borrower who appeared to be in default but was due to have the repayments met by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) under the now closed Repayment of Teacher Loans Scheme.
(3) pursuant to the answer of 19 January 2009, Official Report, columns 1165-6W, on work experience,
what further progress has been made on implementing the national internship scheme; which organisations have agreed to take part; how many extra internships will be available at these organisations in 2009 compared to 2008; and how many places will be available in each local authority area. 
Mr. Lammy: The new internship programme will take effect from the autumn of 2009, and will offer graduates the opportunity both to apply their learning in a working situation and to build the work-ready skills they will need for permanent employment. We are still working with stakeholders to finalise the details of the programme but expect to make a further announcement about our plans in the next few weeks.
The Government are committed to helping new graduates into work in these challenging economic times and internships are one option in a range of opportunities available to those who are unable immediately to find a suitable job.
Andrew Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many and what proportion of (a) males and (b) females aged between 18 and 21 years were in (i) education, (ii) employment and (iii) training in each local authority area in the North West in each of the last five years. 
Mr. Simon: Estimates of 18 to 21-year-olds in education, employment or training are calculated using the Labour Force Survey (LFS). The sample sizes on the LFS for small geographical regions, such as local authority, are too small to make robust estimates. However, we can estimate the proportion of 18-year-olds in education, employment or training from information collected by the Connexions service. This is given as follows.
|Proportion of 18-year-olds in education, employment or training|
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|