From education to employment

Pilands Wood Centre Receives MP Visit and Plaudit

MP Chris Huhne visited his local learndirect centre at Pliands Wood last week and praised the work being done to widen participation and learning access.

Mr. Huhne was afforded the chance to find out more about how the centre works. He was able to see the way in which the learndirect and UK online centre has helped local people change their lives for the better in many different ways. He met with the centre manager Barbara Corcocan to discuss issues of learning and skills in his constituency.

Ufi and learndirect

The centre forms part of a network of centres, which is a government-backed network supporting e-learning and e-services, aiming to further the vision of a learning society in which everyone, from whatever background, routinely expects to learn and upgrade their skills throughout life. The organisation in control of this is the University for Industry (Ufi), responsible for the operation of learndirect across Britain and UK Online across England.

The service has enjoyed a good level of participation, as is shown by some 500,000 people visiting UK online centres across England, and in the South East more than 25,000 people taking learndirect courses. For a more local manifestation of this, one only has to look at the 1,500 people in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight who have gained their first National Certificate in Literacy or Numeracy through the use of the service.

Sarah Bridges, Regional Skills Manager at Ufi South East, said: “Access to learning and technology is key in improving not just individuals” prospects and prosperity, but in boosting the economic and social health of communities and the region as a whole. I”m delighted Chris was able to see the contribution Pilands Wood Community Centre is making to his constituency.”

MP Enjoys Visit; So Does the Staff!

Speaking on the occasion of his visit, Mr. Huhne said: “This is a great way for people to boost their skills, anything from English and maths through to computer skills in their own time. It is easy to fit around family and work commitments and has helped a lot of people.” The Pilands Wood Community Centre runs various nursery, leisure, youth, and health groups, and became a UK online centre three years ago. In 2005 it was recognised as a learndirect link centre, run through Eastleigh College.

Barbara Corcoran said: “It’s great our MP could come down and see what the centre has to offer. We aim to help people across Bursledon, Netley and Hamble increase their skills levels and their confidence, particularly those who might be finding it difficult to get back in to work, or to fit learning around the rest of their lives.

“By working with the community groups that meet at the centre,” she continued, “We”re reaching people who might not otherwise have thought about sitting down at a computer or taking a course. Since it opened, hundreds of people have been through the centre to gain new skills or brush up on old ones, and seen what a difference it can make to their lives.”

Jethro Marsh

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