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Home > News > July 2005 > 20-Jul-2005

Brown announces new Activity and Learning Agreements

New Activity and Learning Agreements that aim to help thousands of young people back into education or training will be piloted in twelve areas from April 2006, the Government announced yesterday.

Under the schemes, around 30,000 16 or 17 year olds who are not in school, not in work or lacking basic skills will sign personal contracts with their personal advisor where, in return for financial support, they will agree to return to education or receive skills and vocational training.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown said: "Because we are determined to move from one of the lowest rates of participation in education at age 17 in the developed world to one of the highest, we are today announcing new approaches and new support for our most disadvantaged young people.

"With investment of £140 million there will be 12 pilot schemes across the country, helping thousands of young people who have missed out on education and training to get into work and learning and fulfil their potential.

"One of the biggest changes this Government is making is to extend the years of education which used to be 11 years, between the ages of 5 and 16, to 15 years, from the ages of 3 to 18. Our objective is that every young person has the skills they need for the modern workplace."

The pilot schemes will begin next year in Greater Manchester, Greater Merseyside, Lancashire, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Central London, East London, Kent & Medway, The Black Country, Cornwall and Devon, Tyne & Wear, and Essex, Southend and Thurrock.

According to the Treasury, £60 million will be used to fund Activity Agreement and Allowance pilot schemes in 8 of the areas, aimed at 16 and 17 year olds who have dropped out of education and are currently out of work. They will be offered between £20 and £40 a week in return for committing to a plan to reintegrate them into education or training, including work-based training.

The Treasury says an additional £80m will be used to fund Learning Agreement pilots in 8 of the areas, aimed at 16 and 17 year olds who are in work but not receiving accredited training. The funding will be used to support training for qualifications, and will test the impact of subsidies for employers who allow their workers time off for training.

Minister for Employment and Welfare Reform, Margaret Hodge said: "These pilots will help us identify how we can best encourage those young people most at risk of disengagement to undertake the sort of activity that will help improve their confidence and their skills. We want to help ensure that they are equipped to succeed in life and in the labour market in the way that best suits them."

Minister for Children and Families, Maria Eagle said: "Learning and skills will be more vital to success for young people in the future so I am really pleased that we have the opportunity to test some options to re-engage more young people in learning. It is important that we encourage young people to increase their skill levels for their future work prospects, and quality of life.

"These pilots will build on the something-for-something approach that has worked so successfully with Education Maintenance Allowances. It's vital that we put mechanisms in place to encourage activity rather than inactivity and encourage those in jobs without training to take up learning opportunities to increase their skills."

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