COLLEGES should receive a major chunk of an Pounds 875 million windfall from the Government's New Deal for the unemployed, according to education secretary DavidBlunkett.
Mr Blunkett has written to the Further Education Funding Council saying that he would expect education and training to account for around a quarter of the Pounds 3.5 billion allocated to fund the New Deal for 18 to 24-year-olds.
In his letter to FEFC chairman Bob Gunn, Mr Blunkett said: "Overall, we expect education and training to account for around a quarter of expenditure on the New Deal. I would hope and expect that FE colleges, with their general characteristics of accessibility, flexibility and quality, will be well placed to secure a significant portion of those resources."
Mr Blunkett has instructed the employment service, which has overall responsibility for the New Deal, to hold talks with colleges and training providers on how best to meet the needs of the unemployed.
Roger Ward, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said: "This is very good news. Colleges have earned their fair share of the New Deal money because of staffing flexibility, quality and their commitment to open access."
It is thought that colleges and other providers will be expected to concentrate on providing courses in basic literacy and numeracy as well as key skills such as computing and communication. The Government believes that colleges may have to design some new courses. New Deal is expected to begin in earnest in April next year.