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14 July 2009 : Column 368W—continued



Education: Standards

Bob Russell: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (1) what representations he has received on the effects on the reputation of the higher and further education sectors of trends in the numbers of establishments purporting to be colleges but not providing education to recognised standards; [285600]

(2) what steps he plans to take to cease the operations of organisations purporting to provide educational courses but not doing so to recognised standards. [285602]

Kevin Brennan: This Department and its predecessors have received representations on this issue from a number of parties. Following the Home Affairs Select Committee on 16 June 2009, the Department will form a task group to review the case for registering privately funded education providers. The task group will report back with its findings in September 2009.

Iron and Steel: Redundancy

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what training schemes will be provided for skilled steel workers who are made redundant to retain and develop their skills. [282877]

Kevin Brennan: The Government are committed to providing individuals and employers with the real help they need during the current economic downturn.

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In each region Government agencies, including the Regional Development Agencies and Learning and Skills Council, are working together with Jobcentre Plus to deliver its Rapid Response Service to help individuals affected by redundancy. The service provides help and advice on a range of issues, including job searches, training, and benefits, and can be delivered on employers' premises.

Newly redundant employees or those under notice of redundancy can access a new £100 million package of support that will help 70,000 people to get flexible pre- employment training designed to meet their individual needs and help them get back to work quickly. The support typically lasts two to eight weeks, and there is no restriction on the type of provision.

£58 million will also be available over two years to increase information and advice services for people looking to re-train and find work.

The Government have also created 75,000 additional work-focused training opportunities for people who have been unemployed for six months or more from any sector, to help them up-skill or re-skill and get back into work. This provision is tailored to the local job market, can be full-time supported by a training allowance, and will provide a significant uplift in skills.

Through the Train to Gain service we are also actively engaging with employers in the steel industry to provide them and their employees with the skills support that will help them through the downturn.

Learning and Skills Council

Mr. Laws: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills if he will place in the Library a copy of the minutes of the meeting of the Learning and Skills Council on (a) 4 March and (b) 22 April 2009; and if he will make a statement. [276887]

Kevin Brennan: The acting chief executive of the Learning and Skills Council has recently undertaken a review of its National Council minutes and has decided that he will make public the full minutes from the National Council meetings, subject to the redaction of any confidential information that is exempt under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Copies of the full minutes from June 2008 to April 2009 have now been published on their website, and can be found at:

Minutes of future meetings will be placed on the LSC's website within seven days of being approved by the Council.

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills whether the paper on the regional and sub-regional presence of the Young People's Learning Agency and the Skills Funding Agency, which the former Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills undertook to provide to the Learning and Skills Council at its Council meeting on 22 April 2009, has been completed. [282961]

Kevin Brennan: This paper remains under development and will be submitted to a future meeting of the LSC Council. The Department for Business, Innovation and
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Skills and the Department for Children, Skills and Families are currently working with a range of partners at regional and sub-regional level to discuss how they will work with the Skills Funding Agency and Young People's Learning Agency.

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what recent assessment he has made of progress in the transition from the Learning and Skills Council to the Skills Funding Agency and Young People Learning Agency. [285422]

Kevin Brennan: We continue to make good progress in planning for the changes, though any transition is subject to the passage of the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Bill, currently progressing through Parliament.

In respect of local authorities, we now have proposals for the operation of the 43 sub-regional groupings that will act as the main planning bodies for learning for those aged 16-18 across the country.

Significant progress has also been made in developing the new structures for the Young People's Learning Agency and the Skills Funding Agency. The ambition is to establish shadow operations, without disrupting services to young people, employers and adult learners, from this September.

We have appointed a chair of the new LSC Young People's Learning Agency committee and appointed a chief executive designate of the Young People's Learning Agency, though this is subject to the passage of the ASCL Bill. Recruitment for the post of chief executive of Skills Funding is also under way.

LSC staff have been briefed on the new staffing structures (including numbers and roles) and locations for the new agencies and for each local authority, and processes to match LSC staff to the posts in the new structures have been communicated and are under way.

We continue to work with key partners and stakeholder to ensure that our planning for the change is as comprehensive as possible. During June and July we are undertaking a series of regional events for partners and stakeholders affected by or involved in the changes to the pre and post 19 landscapes, to provide information on the changes and invite their views on how they would like to work with the new systems locally.

Mr. Willis: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how many posts he expects to be transferred from the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) to local authorities by 31 March 2010; and how many staff he expects to be transferred by (a) 31 August 2009, (b) 31 December 2009 and (c) 31 March 2010 from the LSC to those posts in each LSC region of England. [285581]

Kevin Brennan [holding answer 9 July 2009]: The LSC will continue to operate until 31 March 2010. On that date, subject to the passage of the necessary legislation in the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Bill, the LSC will be dissolved.

On 1 April 2010 LSC staff will transfer to the new structures. We expect around 950 posts to transfer to local authorities distributed across each of the local authorities in each region.

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No staff will transfer before this point, though we are planning to operate the new system in a shadow mode from September 2009 as a part of the transition process. The LSC remains the legally accountable body for the planning, commissioning and funding of all post-16 provision until it is dissolved.

Learning and Skills Council: Finance

Justine Greening: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills pursuant to the answer of 24 June 2009, Official Report, columns 981-2W, on Learning and Skills Council: finance, (1) when he expects to announce the funding allocations to local authorities through the Learning and Skills Council for the academic year 2009-10; [284053]

(2) what funding allocations were made to the London boroughs through the Learning and Skills Council in the academic years (a) 2007-08 and (b) 2008-09; [284054]

(3) what funding allocations were made to each London borough for informal adult learning in the academic years (a) 2007-08 and (b) 2008-09; and what funding is planned for the academic year 2009-10. [284055]

Kevin Brennan: The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) has responsibility for the funding of post 16 education and training. Further education (FE) colleges and providers (including local authorities) received confirmation of their adult learner responsive allocations on 7 April 2009, with maximum contract values for Train to Gain and adult apprenticeships confirmed on 19 June 2009.

This Department does not hold information on funding allocations made to London boroughs for specific years. I have therefore asked the chief executive of the LSC, Geoff Russell to write to the hon. Member with this information and a copy will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Skilled Workers

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (1) what recent research his Department and its predecessor have evaluated on the effects of skill levels in the workforce on levels of national prosperity; [284624]

(2) what recent research his Department has evaluated on the potential effects of the numbers of people taking (a) further and higher education courses and (b) skills courses on levels of economic productivity. [284629]

Kevin Brennan: The Department is constantly monitoring research and analysis on the economic impact of education, skills and qualifications. This covers both work commissioned by the Department and by others.

Generally, there is not much research that directly estimates the impact on overall levels of national prosperity of the numbers going through HE and FE, or of the numbers holding FE and HE-level qualifications. The Bank of England found that increasing skill levels accounted for a fifth of GDP growth over the 30 years from 1975-2002(1). Other research(2 )found that lower skill levels
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in the UK directly accounted for up to a fifth of the productivity gap with our competitors.

In future we also hope to be able to match data from the National Employer Skills Survey, and the Train to Gain Evaluation, to data from the Annual Business Inquiry. This should help us to try and assess the direct impact of skills on firm level productivity.

However, there is a lot of research that can inform this question in a more indirect way-in particular research which analyses the impact of holding qualifications on earnings, which is generally taken as a reasonable proxy for the impact on productivity of those individuals. Relevant reports published in the departmental research series(3) since 2000 are listed as follows.

In addition, the Department co-funds the Centre for the Economics of Education (CEE). This research centre has also carried out a lot of research on the returns to the economy and individuals from education and training. Their publications can be found on their website at:

In brief, the research shows that individuals with higher qualification levels are more likely to be employed than those with lower qualification levels. Equally, individuals with higher qualifications are less likely to be unemployed.

Once in work, people with higher qualifications also earn more on average than similar individuals with lower qualification levels. This is true for each successive level of qualification, and applies to both academic and vocational qualifications, plus apprenticeships. In general, higher qualifications carry higher earnings returns and academic qualifications deliver higher returns than their vocational counterparts.

Research also shows that the earnings returns to qualifications have remained relatively constant over recent years. This would seem to suggest that the supply of skilled labour has been keeping pace with employer demand, and we are not saturating the market with skills and qualifications that are not in demand.

The Department will continue to monitor the returns to education, skills and qualifications, both through commissioned research and through internal analysis of data. It is vital that we gain as full an understanding as possible of these returns. This will enable us to make sure that the qualifications we deliver in future provide economically valuable skills for individuals, employers and the economy as a whole, and help us to achieve the ambitions for a high-skilled workforce set out in the Leitch report on skills.

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Mr. Sanders: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what his most recent assessment is of the UK's optimal skills mix; and what steps his Department is taking to achieve that skills mix. [284677]

Kevin Brennan: "Ambition 2020", published by UKCES, reiterates Government's long held view that raising skills levels improves the country's future prosperity. "Working Futures", also published by UKCES, made it clear that if we are to emerge from the recession stronger, more adaptable and more competitive, our skills strategy must enable the UK to take advantage of opportunities in the key industries, technologies and services that will drive economic growth.

Government are investing £5 billion in adult skills this year to continue to up-skill the nation. Government have also put in place measures to ensure we are up-skilling people with the right skills. For example, sector skills agreements provide a framework for sector skills council's to work with employers, key delivery agencies and Government to address priority skills in their sector.

Government will now take a more proactive approach to ensure it delivers the right skills, in the right place, at the right time to ensure the UK can seize the opportunities of the new global economy. The new approach will include forecasting demand; taking action to manage supply to meet these demands; and thinking strategically about how we best support areas of the economy where we anticipate opportunities for high employment or high competitive advantage.

We will publish a new Skills Strategy later this year, setting out how this will work in more detail.

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