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Gap in youth training funding is challenged

Your front-page article by Ian Nash (TES, March 31) makes several points, to which I should like to respond in turn:

* "Pounds 47 million lost in transfer between Department for Education and Employment Department". This is simply not true. The funding made available by the DFE to my department has been passed on to training and enterprise councils, although it is however not separately identified within TEC budgets. Nor is there any guarantee it will be passed on to colleges - like all other providers of training, they have to seek Youth Credits business in the marketplace.

* "Lack of communication between DFE and ED." Again not true. DFE, ED, the Further Education Funding Council for England, and TEC national council have been meeting regularly to agree clear and common guidance which they will issue shortly to colleges and TECs;

* "70,000 trainees will lose out." This is again not true. All trainees already in youth training or courses funded by the FEFC will continue to receive funding from current sources to the completion of their training. In future Youth Credits will be the mechanism through which TECs fund part-time vocational training under youth training or modern apprenticeship. Sufficient funds will be found to meet the youth training guarantee. There is no "gap".

* "From April 1, the FEFC will no longer fund part-time courses, which will all be covered by Youth Credits." Again, a complete misunderstanding of the true position. Youth Credits cover all part-time courses incorporated in an individual training plan (for youth training) or apprenticeship plan (for modern apprenticeship). These focus on national vocational qualifications, but can include for example GCSEs or A-levels, where these are judged to be vocationally relevant. Any part-time study falling outside this definition falls to the FEFC to fund.

* Chris Humphries of the TEC national council is quoted as saying: "The system has crashed. It is not about blame but total confusion in a system that has gone wrong." Not so. Chris Humphries has told me that the quote accredited to him is a clear misrepresentation.

* "All the above puts the whole idea of Learning Credits in doubt, and DFE ministers have not responded to a Coopers and Lybrand report received before Christmas." Again, this is simply not true. The report was received by ministers within the last four weeks. They will consider it collectively.

I hope this puts the record straight for your readers. This department, the DFE, the FEFC and the TEC national council will shortly produce advice and guidance on the technical issues involved which will be made available to all interested parties.


Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State

Department of Employment

Caxton House

Tothill Street

London SW1

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