From education to employment

Part Two of Paul Keely’s Review of the LSC Annual Accounts

When MG Rover collapsed in April 2005, over 5,000 people were made redundant and the LSC had to work very quickly to handle the situation. The regional development agency, Advantage West Midlands, teamed up with Jobcentre Plus and the LSC to get the workers back to employment or education. In less than a week, the team secured a £10 million European Social Fund (ESF) and £500,000 from the LSC.

A dedicated advice centre was set up with a team of 120 skills advisors seconded from colleges, the LSC and information, advice and guidance networks to offer one-to-one, in-depth skills assessments. Within weeks, more than 3,400 workers had completed individual training plans. By the end of September 2005, less than 6 months after the collapse of MG Rover, more than 2,500 redundant employees had found new work, and 3,300 had been offered at least one training course relevant to their needs.

East of England

The East of England is currently running a government-funded Employer Training Pilot that helps organisations identify skills shortages and provide relevant training in Essex, Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. £24 million was spent on the Adult Skills Pilot in four regions – Suffolk, Norfolk, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire – and £14.9 million was invested in the Regional Skills Fund.

In the last year the LSC had been building Regional Skills Partnerships, bringing together representatives of the LSC, Jobcentre Plus, Sector Skills Development Agency, regional development agencies, Higher Education Funding Council for England and other relevant bodies to integrate action on skills, training, business, support and labour market services at a regional level.

Some 70 staff from Whipps Cross University Hospital in Leytonstone are taking Skills for Life literacy and numeracy courses provided by Waltham Forest College in partnership with the LSC and Rentokil Initial Hospital Services. This is the first time that Skills for Life courses are being run in the workplace, with over 250 people at 22 employers. The LSC spent £2.7 million last year on training its own staff. It also reached its target of providing training for 10,000 people in schools.

Equality and Diversity

A total of £1.1 billion was spent on equality and diversity last year. This included £141 million on the Learner Support Fund; £125 million on support for learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities; £45 million on improving disability access; £20 million on neighbourhood learning programmes in deprived communities. In 2003/4, a quarter of all learners (1.23 million) were over 50. Two thirds of these were female. Only 5.4% of these were from ethnic minorities compared with 17% among the younger learners.

The Report also conveyed the progress of targets set in 2002 to be reached by 2010 stating as follows: first, increase the proportion of women in senior roles to 51 percent (as of June 2005: 47.71%); double the proportion of black minority ethnic (BME) staff in senior roles (as of June 2005: 15.61%); increase BME share of jobs to 9.1% ( as of June 2005: 7.12%); and double the proportion of staff with disabilities or limiting illnesses from 3.37% (as of June 2005: 3.5%).

In the two years to 2003/4, the success rate in colleges rose from 65% to 72%. In 2003/4, 70% of work-based learning provision was rated as satisfactory; up 16% from 54% the previous year. As a result, WBL success rates rose from 36 to 46 % in the same time period. The LSC has set up 348 Centres of Vocational Excellence (CoVE) and has awarded Learning and Skills Beacon status to 63 colleges and providers. The first UK CoVE was formed in 2003. As well as providing a large selection of courses at workshops at sites across the country, the LSC also offers over 300 e-learning courses in association with Ashbridge Business School.

Finally, the report stated that the number of accidents involving LSC staff decreased from 202 in 2003/4 to 149 in 2004/5.

Paul Keely

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