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'Can do' culture pays off for everyone

learndirect scotland has boosted wages and businesses by millions of pounds and offers good value for money, according to a new report.

The Scottish Executive-funded organisation has offered independent and free advice on adult further education courses, training and funding since its launch in October 2000.

A study commissioned by the executive found that about 5,100 employees undertook learning or training in 2005-06 who would otherwise not have done so. It is estimated that this will lead to wage increases of about pound;3.4 million and new value to businesses of just under pound;7 million.

These were among the reasons why the organisation's pound;8.5 million funding was adjudged "good value for money".

Some 24 per cent of callers to the main helpline would not have gone on to undertake learning without support from Learndirect Scotland. This works out as 6,800 new learners, a quarter of whom come from postcodes deemed "socially excluded" and 23 per cent of whom had done no formal learning since school.

The survey suggests that 3,100 learners who were not in work at the time of their call later got jobs, and that 400 of these would not have enrolled on courses without contacting Learndirect Scotland.

There was evidence of increased self-confidence and changes in attitudes to learning, and most callers were happy with the service they received.

Other organisations that work with Learndirect Scotland were also happy with its work, pointing to its "dynamism, responsive- ness and 'can-do' culture". It was seen to be "completely open and honest", and "not entrenched in bureaucracy".

The report stated that Learndirect Scotland also known as the Scottish University for Industry had the potential to "make a significant impact on the development of a more skilled Scottish workforce, and thereby on the nation's economic competitiveness."

On a less upbeat note, the report found that a "major hurdle" for the organisation was the "longstanding resistance to exhortations to invest in training" of most small and medium-sized businesses.

The findings were based on feedback from 300 individuals and 200 businesses, with statistics extrapolated from these and rounded to the nearest 100.

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