ACCESS to learning at ‘any time, any pace and any where’ is now a reality for adult learners throughout Northern Ireland with the launch of learndirect.

The revolutionary new e-learning network which aims to transform how and where people acquire new skills and qualifications and to deliver learning that fits the needs and lifestyles of individuals and employers.

Proving just how flexible learning with learndirect is, at the launch in Belfast three-times Olympic Rowing Gold Medal winner Matthew Pinsent took to the water for a spot of learning on his lap-top while rowing on the River Lagan. Matthew joined forces with Dr Sean Farren, Minister for Higher and Further Education, Training and Employment at Belfast’s W5 Centre to launch learndirect which has been developed by Ufi, the UK government’s flagship for lifelong learning.

Using Information Communication Technology (ICT) learndirect aims to deliver courses to learners at locally managed learndirect centres or anywhere they can get access to a computer and the internet.

Launching learndirect Dr Farren said: "This major new initiative is well placed to contribute to the development of a competitive economy which can create opportunities for all in the new knowledge based era we live in. There are currently 24 learndirect centres in Northern Ireland and by the end of the year there will be a total of 32 local centres providing straightforward access to high quality flexible learning at a time and place to suit the learner. This means that individuals and businesses can incorporate learning easily into busy schedules and make learning an integral part of their daily lives. Flexible learning through learndirect will also be attractive to disabled learners particularly those with mobility problems."

Already a learndirect learner Matthew Pinsent is currently working his way through a ‘Presenting Information’ course and has been in constant demand to speak at dinners and other events.

While a specific Northern Ireland learndirect section of the website is currently under construction, further information is on-line at www.learndirect.co.uk.

A free information helpline for learndirect provides information about learning (0800 100 900) and helps people decide what, where and how they want to learn. (SP)

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