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00:09 on Tuesday
25 June 2002

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Biggest drive to raise skills through free local 'bite size' learning

The biggest ever national drive to raise skills has been launched by Margaret Hodge, Minister for Lifelong Learning, Bryan Sanderson, Chairman of the Learning and Skills Council and TV morning chat queen Trisha. They called on people from all walks of life to sign up for free, local Bite Size courses as part of the national campaign to kick start new skills learning.

Over 18,500 different Bite Size courses, supported by some of the UK's major employers, will run throughout the country in June and July as part of a nationwide campaign to give adults a taste of success in learning and begin to change attitudes towards learning new skills.

Marking the launch of the campaign, Bryan Sanderson said: "I encourage everyone to call 0800 100 900, sign up, join in and move on. Bite Size, which started on 25 June, running for four weeks, is an excellent, free opportunity for all.

"Our groundbreaking initiative will give thousands of people the chance to have a whirl at learning a diverse range of skills; courses cover everything from building walls, maintaining tractors, speaking Chinese, lip reading, sign language, tap dancing, surfing the Internet, to helping families with their reading and discovering osteopathy & chiropractic health.

"People who have done little or no learning since school can now have a go at something new. By offering short, easy to manage courses we hope to begin changing attitudes towards learning, particularly for people who had a hard time at school.

"Bite Size will be an enjoyable way for people to learn a new skill. Everyone taking part will receive a certificate to mark their achievement and participation. By encouraging people to do a short one off course we hope to encourage them to go on to gain more skills in the future."

The courses, which last between one and two hours, will be held across England in local shopping centres, mobile units, offices, gyms and airports as well as traditional learning centres. They will be held at a variety of times in the day to accommodate those working or with children.

Mr Sanderson added: "All courses are free and anyone can take part. Bite Size could even unearth hidden talents. Let's hope that these courses are the start of bigger things."

Trisha, morning TV chatshow host, spearheading the national Bite Size campaign, said: "I am delighted to be able to support the Bite Size initiative. The courses are free, fun and easy-to-do. In just an hour or two you will be able to learn something new. There are hundreds of courses to choose from wherever you live. They are being held at lots of different times, so you should be able to find one to do while your kids are at school, in a lunch hour or after work.

"OK I was lucky enough to enjoy school. But there's a big difference in having to learn things and making a personal choice to learn things, and hey, school doesn't cover everything! I wish Bite Size courses had been around during the years I spent as a single mum. My self esteem was at rock bottom and I would have loved the chance for an excuse to not only learn something that truly interested me, but to get the opportunity of meeting other people who had the same interests.

"Almost everything I use in my TV job, I learned after school. I got into mental health via community work. I got into journalism through hassling people I knew who wrote for local newspapers and my first job in TV was as a 'runner' (or message girl) for a television show for no pay! For so many of us, it's what you learn after school that proves to be the stepping stone to where you want to be.

"Employees who have had a negative experience at school don't want to be force-fed with education. What they first need is an appetite for learning and a menu of opportunities to choose from which will fit around their work and life styles. Bite Size courses can do all this and will hopefully motivate new learners to take more courses in the future."

Click here to find Bite Size courses in your area.

July 2001




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