THE future of learning beyond the traditional confines of further education colleges has taken another significant step with the announcement of 38 learning centres across Scotland.
They are being funded with pound;2.4 million from the Scottish Executive, the first tranche of an ambitious programme costing pound;8 million which will be spent over two years to upgrade learning centres so that they meet the standards set down by Learndirect Scotland.
Wendy Alexander, Lifelong Learning Minister, said: "A real test of success for Learndirect Scotland will be its ability to win over a lost generation of learners, particularly those disaffected or disappointed by formal education, those who have disappeared from learning.
"To do that it needs to put learners' needs first - taking learning out to our high streets and communities."
The pound;8 million "captal modernisation fund" will concentrate on improvements to learning centres, helping them develop new aspects of their work so that they become more accessible.
The grants in the first round range from pound;13,000 to pound;100,000 in the 38 centres.
The Training Group - GTG, Glasgow is among the first to benefit with funding of pound;96,088. Alex Mitchell, the company's managing director, said it would help to install software and hardware so adult learners gain experience of equipment that is used in the workplace.
Similar advantages are cited by the Microbeacon Centre in Edinburgh, which is run by Edinburgh University Settlement for people with physical and learning disabilities.
Margaret Durie, the project's co-ordinator, said: "Much of our equipment was no longer compatible with modern technology and was continually breaking down."