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An exit appears in dead-end street;Lifelong Learning

INDIVIDUAL LEARNING ACCOUNT. After much ministerial wrangling, the Government has published its plans for an education system offering a lifetime of courses to fulfil the needs of the new century with its ever-more rapid technological change

When Denise McManus (picture opposite, above) left school at 16 with two CSEs she thought her education was over. But after joining insurance group, Liverpool Victoria in Poole she began to think again.

Her initial job as a telephone customer adviser was followed by a five-year secondment to the training department to write and deliver training material. When this came to an end however, Ms McManus, 40, realised she would be returning to her original post because she lacked the qualifications to become a training officer.

It looked as if she had hit a dead end because she could not afford the pound;600 fee for a Certificate in Training Practice course at Bournemouth and Poole College. Then Dorset Consortium began its pilot scheme with Liverpool Victoria and Ms McManus signed up immediately.

She opened her individual learning account with pound;25 and received pound;150 from Dorset TEC and pound;150 from her own company which contributed towards the cost of the course. She paid the rest from her own savings. Ms McManus is now studying two evenings a week at college and spends another four hours on assignments. When she qualifies in July she will become a training officer with Liverpool Victoria - securing the position she desired and a significant pay rise.

But her ambitions no longer end there. Her careers interview, part of the lifelong learning programme, inspired her to continue her education and Ms McManus is now planning to train for her Institute of Personnel Development Certificate.

The scheme is one of several models that finally convinced Labour that ILAs were the way forward as a means of spreading the costs of its lifelong learning among the individuals, employers and the state.

Elaine Carlton

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