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Pounds 6m boost for the learning society

Neil Munro introduces a two-page report on the latest Conservative blueprint for Scottish education.

The Education Minister this week launched a package of measures, worth Pounds 6 million over three years aimed at stimulating lifelong learning and adult guidance.

Raymond Robertson, speaking in Glasgow on Tuesday at an adult guidance conference on "Unlocking Potential", revealed the long-awaited Government responses to the report of the national skills forum set up in December 1995 and to consultations on adult guidance and lifelong learning.

The Government's "six main points for action" appear to concede the argument that demand for training and learning must be increased by demonstrating that new skills are essential in all walks of life. This emphasis lies behind the broad-based Campaign for Learning which was also launched at the conference.

The changes, some of which are heralded in the White Paper, will establish a Scottish Guidance Group to lead the development of adult guidance, backed by the introduction in August of a national telephone helpline, increased marketing to raise awareness, and a strengthening of existing local guidance networks along with new "local learning partnerships".

A key role will be played by the Advisory Scottish Council for Education and Training Targets, whose powers will be strengthened and its membership widened.

Improved marketing of educational opportunities, led by the Scottish Office in partnership with others, was flagged up in the White Paper. This will try to impart a better understanding of the education and training system, heightening public awareness of Government reforms.

The White Paper also revealed that Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise are to be asked to develop a new programme for the adult unemployed. Tackling the lack of basic skills will be a key priority as will "quick-fix" improvements in skills tailored to specific jobs and encouraging adults to acquire high-level qualifications to SVQ level III and above.

The measures will build on two initiatives, Glasgow Works and Grampian Enterprise's Workskills project, aimed at the long-term unemployed and improving the chances of finding work.

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