Previous Section Index Home Page


Women's Employment and Pay Review

26. Mr. Gareth R. Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what the remit is of the Women's Employment and Pay Review. [157934]

Ms Jowell: The Women's Employment and Pay Review, led by Denise Kingsmill, Deputy Chair of the Competition Commission, will examine ways to increase diversity and flexibility of the labour market, for example through high value part-time and flexible working arrangements such as job shares, term-time contracts and contracts for 'job-pools'. It will look to produce a strategy for the promotion and implementation of voluntary pay reviews by all employers to ensure pay equality within their organisations. The review will advocate the benefits to business of voluntary pay audits and will work in collaboration with the EOC and employer and trade union representatives to help build support for a voluntary approach. It will identify further areas where understanding and awareness of existing equality law can be increased among employers and female employees.

26 Apr 2001 : Column: 356W

The review will draw on experiences of good practice both in the UK and internationally. Ministers across Government will be available to assist the review, but the work will be autonomous.

We aim for the review to be completed by the end of October. The final report will include non-legislative and cost-effective proposals to improve women's employment prospects and participation in the labour market, taking account of the Government's Work-Life Balance Campaign. Denise Kingsmill will present her report to the conference on Women's Employment, Pay and Prospects in December.

In-service Training Days

28. Tony Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make a statement on the future of Baker days. [157936]

Ms Estelle Morris: We are committed to raising standards of education and supporting teachers to do this by providing the training and development they need. Teachers are currently entitled to five in-service training days, under the terms and conditions of the School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Document. In-service training days are an important tool for headteachers to help their staff keep their skills and knowledge up to date, and they are an integral part of our future CPD strategy.

Employment Service

29. Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what guidance he gives to the Employment Service on helping job seekers to find part-time work. [157937]

Ms Jowell: Through our range of New Deal programmes which are operated through the Employment Service we are providing tailored help to meet the variety of needs of those without work. The personal adviser approach is at the heart of all these programmes providing support to some of the most vulnerable people in the labour market.

For some this will mean full-time work but for others, perhaps those with other responsibilities such as bringing up children, part-time work will be the better option. The advisers can offer advice and assistance, including help with calculating in-work benefits, child care arrangements and appropriate training to help them into work. And, from the end of this month, lone parents who take up part-time work of less than 16 hours will be able to get help with child care costs for their first year in work.

Call Centres (Training)

30. Sir David Madel: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make a statement on training provision to provide skills for people planning to work in call centres. [157939]

Mr. Wicks: We are working with the Call Centre Association (CCA) and the Communication Workers Union to raise standards and increase training opportunities in the sector. We are also working closely with the CCA to identify current and future skill needs. Training provision for call centre staff, and for people planning to work in call centres, was part of the wider consultation into National Training Organisation arrangements for the

26 Apr 2001 : Column: 357W

telecommunications sector. The consultation ended on 30 March 2001 and we will make an announcement shortly.

Jobseeker's Allowance

31. Mr. Love: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what policies are in place to ensure that young unemployed couples without children are actively seeking work while claiming Jobseeker's Allowance. [157940]

Ms Jowell: On 19 March this year, we introduced joint claims for Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA). Both members of young unemployed couples without children have to be available for work and to seek work actively, and each has to agree a Jobseeker's Agreement detailing what steps they will take in looking for work. Each member of the couple is required to attend the Jobcentre every fortnight to discuss their job search. Full payment of JSA is conditional on both carrying out their full responsibilities. Both will be helped by advisers to secure work and will be referred to programmes and New Deal assistance as appropriate.

Ufi

32. Mr. Tynan: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make a statement on the development of Ufi. [157941]

Mr. Wills: Excellent progress is being made. Using the brand-name learndirect, Ufi Ltd. moved from its developmental phase to the national roll-out of its services and systems in October of last year.

There are now over 900 learndirect centres operating nationally in a wide range of settings in both urban and rural communities. learndirect currently offers in excess of 430 course titles of which over 70 per cent. are on-line. The courses cover Ufi Ltd.'s initial priority areas including basic skills, information technology at all levels and business and management skills for small and medium-sized enterprises.

The network of learning centres is underpinned by the learndirect National Information and Advice Service, comprising the learndirect telephone helpline (0800 100 900) and the learndirect website (www.learndirect.co.uk). Over 2.6 million callers to the helpline and over 1.7 million searchers of the website, have received advice and information on a whole range of over half a million learning opportunities.

Training Facilities (Sheffield)

33. Mr. Bill Michie: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make a statement on his plans for new training facilities in Sheffield. [157942]

Mr. Wicks: This is a matter for the Learning and Skills Council. I have therefore asked John Harwood, the council's chief executive, to write to my hon. Friend with the information requested and to place a copy of his reply in the Library. However, Sheffield College will be in discussions with the LSC about the development of the new programme of Centres of Vocational Excellence, and new Technology Institutes. There has also been, as part of Excellence in Cities, the development of new City Learning Centres in the city.

26 Apr 2001 : Column: 358W

Lecturers' Pay

34. Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make a statement on the pay of further education and sixth form college lecturers. [157943]

Mr. Wicks: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on 28 March 2001, Official Report, columnS 689-90W.

University Funding

35. Mr. Nigel Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what recent representations he has had from vice-chancellors and principals on core levels of funding for universities. [157944]

Mr. Wicks: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State receives representations about higher education funding from time to time from vice-chancellors and principals. Most recently, he has received a copy of the report of the Universities UK Funding Options Review Group "New Directions for Higher Education Funding".

The Government are increasing publicly planned funding to universities and higher education colleges in England by £1.7 billion over the six years to 2003-04: funding per full-time student will thereby increase in real terms in 2001-02 for the first time in over a decade.

Chief Inspector of Schools

36. Mr. Hilary Benn: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make a statement on Her Majesty's chief inspector of schools' latest annual report. [157945]

Ms Estelle Morris: Mike Tomlinson's annual report for 1999-2000 shows that the quality of teaching has improved and the attainments of pupils at all levels have risen. We welcome the evidence of rising standards and congratulate teachers, pupils and schools on what they have achieved. Our policies are designed to build on the firm foundations which are now in place and to secure continuous improvement in teaching and learning in all types of school.

Further Education (Standards)

37. Mr. Tom Clarke: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make a statement on his plans to raise standards in further education. [157946]

Mr. Wicks: Standards in further education are already high. The most recent annual report summarising inspections showed that over 90 per cent. of teaching in further education was judged satisfactory.

However, more needs to be done to bring standards in all colleges up to the level of the best. That is why the Government have put in place the Learning and Skills Council with a remit to secure better quantity and quality, introduced new inspection arrangements, and will increase the standards fund. These will all contribute to raising standards in further education.

26 Apr 2001 : Column: 359W


Next Section Index Home Page