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Labour gets ready to unveil policies

Labour has given an agenda for unveiling its policy on training, but has left providers calling for more detail more quickly.

The party is to publish a series of four consultation papers outlining proposals for training for all ages and from school-leavers to the long-term unemployed.

The timetable was announced this week by shadow education and employment minister Stephen Byers at a conference for training and enterprise council and local education authority leaders.

Labour plans to bring out a consultation paper by the end of next month on workplace training and learning. The document is expected to include more detail on proposals for learning accounts - schemes to allow employees to save cash to finance continuing study - and on the party's so-called University of Industry initiative, a plan to encourage more workplace learning.

A second paper on training provision for 16 to 17-year-olds and a third on the "new deal" for under- 25s to be financed with a windfall tax on the newly privatised utilities will be ready by May.

However, proposals on training needs for over-25s will not emerge until the party's conference next autumn.

Mr Byers came under pressure from Sue Slipman, director of the London TEC Council, to reveal Labour thinking on the role of TECs in delivering new training policies. He acknowledged "uncertainty" felt among TEC managers over the party's intentions, and pledged not to change existing structures "for the sake of change".

Training policy details will be difficult to finalise while the party holds back on publishing its proposals for 16-19 education and further education.

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