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Live longer, work longer, learn longer

An initiative that aims to bring older workers back into learning will receive Scottish Executive funding until 2008, it was confirmed this week.

Allan Wilson, Deputy Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning, said the Experience Counts initiative will enter the second of three funding phases.

The initiative provides tailored learning programmes for over-50s to raise confidence and acquire new skills. Through the programme, sector skills councils (SSCs) collaborate with employers and learning institutions to provide "bite size" or taster courses.

The latest announcement represents the second phase and sees four SSCs which operate across Scotland receive pound;224,000 to deliver a range of activities, from enhancing continuing professional development of staff in Scottish colleges to the development of a mentoring programme in the transport sector.

In addition, Mr Wilson announced that a further pound;56,000 was being made available for projects in the third phase of the programme, with the application process for funding to start soon.

He said: "We are living longer, we are working longer and the world is moving fast. So it's vital that learning opportunities are available to meet those changing needs. Learning shouldn't end when we close the school or college door - it should be a genuinely lifelong experience . . .

"Experience Counts ensures that older workers can be competitive in the modern workplace. By combining older workers' wealth of professional experience with new knowledge and skills development we can further Scotland's commitment to a world-class professional environment."

A total of pound;500,000 was made available for the older learners programme over the three financial years 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2007-08.

Around half of this was already allocated to three SSCs in January this year as part of the first stage of the programme.

The remainder of the funding will be made available for the four SSCs taking part in the second phase as well as stage three.

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