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Major rise in further education take-up among benefits claimants

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There has been a significant increase in the number of benefits claimants taking up further education, according to new figures released by the government.

The data shows that 650,000 people claiming benefits sought to further their skills and training last year, compared with 480,000 in 2010.

A major catalyst among those furthering their education was a desire to improve maths and English skills, with the number of claimants doing so increasing by a third in just 12 months - from 180,000 in 2012/13 to 240,000 in 2013/14.

According to the Department for Work and Pensions and Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, which compiled the figures, the number of individual courses started by claimants rose by 8.8 per cent to 1,680,800, which is the third year in a row that both sets of figures have seen a rise.

However, another key observation was that there has been a slight fall in the number of benefits claimants aged between 19 and 24 beginning further education training, with this dropping by 1.3 per cent.

Nonetheless, employment minister Priti Patel said it is proof that welfare reforms are transforming the lives of some of the poorest people in the UK.

This is being achieved by ensuring that those who are unemployed have the correct skills to carry out their next role effectively, and have the chance to build a solid career, she explained.

"As part of our one nation government, we want everyone to succeed and achieve their full potential, and through our reforms we are doing just that," Ms Patel added.

The report stressed that a continued emphasis on better local partnerships between job centres, employers and skills providers is likely to "sustain the rising trend" of people undertaking learning while on benefits.

Virtual College is one of the leading providers of e-learning in the UK. Our Online Employability Suite helps learners develop the skills, qualities and attitudes needed to secure and sustain employment. For more information, please visit: http://www.virtual-college.co.uk/vcproducts/online-employability-suite.aspx

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