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Extra gloss on the New Deal

IT IS important to fill the gaps in your article about the New Deal (TES, March 31).

The independent National Institute evaluation of the first year of the New Deal, published last December, concluded that: "The programme has had a positive effect on the numbers of young people leaving the claimant count and is estimated to have reduced youth unemployment in Great Britain by approximately 30,000 relative to what it would otherwise have been."

The New Deal aims to get young people into jobs and to equip them with the range of skills they need to stay in work. It is important to remember that most have been unemployed for at least six months and 31 per cent have never worked at all. About 40 per cent have poor leels of literacy and numeracy.

I was pleased to receive the first New Deal inspection reports. In judging the success of the training and education option, which is taken up by 45 per cent of New Dealers, a balance needs to be struck between ensuring the illiteracy and innumeracy are remedied, while efforts are focused on getting people into work as quickly as possible.

As the level of disadvantage among those on the New Deal increases, the challenge for colleges to deliver the help and training they need will become greater. We will work with them, and address weaknesses to make sure they are up to the challenge.

Tessa Jowell

Employment minister

Department for Education and Employment

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