27/02/2003

Lifelong learning reaches five million milestone

Calls to the UK's largest careers and learning information service this week reached five million, signalling a determination by people to create a better future for themselves.

Since its launch in February 1998, the learndirect national learning advice line, has helped hundreds of thousands of people search for new career and learning opportunities by giving free advice and information on more than 600,000 courses nationwide.

Five years and five million calls on, qualified advisers at learndirect call centres across the country continue to take an average of 20,000 calls a week from people seeking further learning, new careers or hobbies in the areas where they live.

Ivan Lewis, Minister for Young People and Adult Skills, congratulated learndirect on achieving five million calls.

"Access to full and free information and advice on learning opportunities offered through learndirect is vital for people to help improve their skills, achieve their potential and contribute to the economy by helping to improve the competitiveness of UK business," he said.

In addition to the telephone advice line, people can log onto the learndirect website and search the course database for themselves. Since May 2000, more than six million course searches have been made.

Among the most popular courses that people enquire about are IT and computers, English, French, teaching, plumbing and psychology. People can search for practically any course they can think of from hundreds of providers nationwide.

The advice service helps people of all ages but is most popular among 26 to 35-year-olds, seeking a change in their careers or courses to enhance their existing jobs.

The advice line continues to be slightly more popular with women (61% of callers are female) than with men (39%) and the largest volume of calls consistently come from London (25%), the South East (16%) and the North West (15%).

learndirect regularly carries out customer satisfaction surveys, the most recent of which shows that 92% of users feel the overall level of service from the advice line is good. The same percentage of callers say they would recommend the service to others and 87% are very satisfied with the helpfulness of the advisers.

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