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Thursday, 16 August, 2001, 12:52 GMT 13:52 UK
'Open all hours' learning unveiled
Shoppers would be able to take up learning
Supermarkets, doctors surgeries and train stations are all set to become centres of learning in Wales under a 1bn scheme.

As teenagers across receive their A and AS-level results on Thursday the new body responsible for education and training among the over 16s has unveiled a blueprint for its future direction.

Education and Learning Wales (ELWa) said it wanted continuing education to be part of everyday life.

It has announced plans to spend more than 1bn on developing learning facilities which will fit in with people's lifestyles.

Enid Rowlands, Chair of ELWa
Enid Rowlands: 'Bitesize learning'
ELWa's aim is to provide the highest quality post-16 education and training in Europe - and to make it available to people at times and places that suit them.

It plans to involve hundreds of thousands in continued learning under its new three-year corporate plan.

The draft plan was drawn up following wide consultation with industries, communities, public and voluntary sector organisations, learning providers and individual learners over the past few months.

People across Wales are now being invited to comment on the draft document before it is submitted to the National Assembly for approval at the end of the year.

Enid Rowlands, Chairman of ELWa's National Council said: "This corporate plan is all about opening learning up to the maximum number of people.

"Our aim is not only to have the highest quality post-16 education and training in Europe but also to bring that learning into people's lives and make it available at times and places that suit them."

Ms Rowlands said that cyber cafes in supermarkets, which have already begun to emerge on the scene in Wales, were an "excellent example, of the learning innovations, which can be achieved through imaginative and flexible thinking."

Opening hours

"What could be more appropriate as a learning venue than a supermarket.

Most people visit them at least once a week and their opening hours are more flexible than ever before to match people's lifestyles.

"We must be just as flexible in the education and training system," said Ms Rowlands.

Ms Rowlands also said Elwa had some tough choices to make because there was a finite amount of money available to deliver the ambitious plans.

ELWa warns that failure to deliver would result in Wales getting caught in the low skills, low growth trap, which in turn would lead to a stagnant labour market, a breakdown of social cohesion and outward migration from many areas.

Among the ideas which ELWa will be developing with the public and stakeholders across Wales are:

  • A strong action plan to spread the use of IT and e-learning right across Wales.
  • A new breed of mentors to support and promote learning in the workplace and the community.
  • A new system for measuring and giving people credit for all kinds of learning, both formal and informal.
  • Greater collaboration between colleges and universities to boost research in key areas and use new knowledge to fuel new business growth.

    Fourteen public meetings will be held around Wales over the coming three months to discuss the plan.

    People will also be able to comment by logging on to the ELWa website.

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