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Learndirect Scotland debut in doubt

THE intended launch of the Scottish University for Industry on Monday is one of the many events to be thrown into doubt by the death of Donald Dewar, the First Minister. Mr Dewar had been due to preside over what was planned as a glitzy affair along with Henry McLeish, the Enterprise and Lifelong Learning Minister. The Executive is backing the venture, now rebranded as Learndirect Scotland, with pound;20 million over three years.

The eventual launch will be used to promote the Executive's lifelong learning flagship, and the wider policy agenda, before an audience drawn from the business and learning worlds. Learndirect has built up a database of 40,000 learning opportunities which will also be launched, as will the first of around 30 learning centres that have been awarded the Learndirect Scotland brand which is intended to show they have the stamp of quality.

The intention is to connect earners to learning in a "brokerage role". Frank Pignatelli, its chief executive, has promised that it will be proactive without substituting for or treading on the toes of other bodies active in the field.

The Learndirect board met for the first time on Tuesday under the chairmanship of Christine Lenihan, an Edinburgh-based businesswoman. The other members are Oonagh Aitken, chief executive of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, Peter Burdon, chief executive of the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, Neil Grant, planning director with BAe Systems Marine, Ann Jakeman, director of learning at the Bank of Scotland, Professor Thomas Lange of Robert Gordon University's economics department, Ralph Palmer, former director of skills at Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Craig Thomson, principal of Glenrothes College, and Professor Michael Thorne, vice-principal of Napier University.

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