FURTHER education colleges will share in a Pounds 100 million or more new year windfall as the government delivers its New Deal pledge for the unemployed.
The government started 12 New Deal pathfinder areas across the country on Monday. In April the projects starts in the country's remaining 122 employment service districts. Employment department spokesmen say that more than Pounds 100 million has been allocated for education and training.
The New Deal is aimed at reducing the number of people on state benefits. From April it applies to 18 to 24-year-olds who have been unemployed for six months or more. Anyone refusing work or full-time education or training will have their benefits stopped. From June the New Deal will apply to those over 25 and out of work for over two years.
Education secretary David Blunkett made it clear in a letter to the Further Education Funding Council in August last year that he would expect education and training to account for a quarter (Pounds 875 million) of the total four-year Pounds 3.5 billion New Deal investment.
Mr Blunkett said that colleges would be expected to secure a "significant portion" of the Pounds 875 million.
It is unclear exactly how much of the education and training allocation colleges will win since a certain amount of training will be carried out in-house by employers.
But government spokesmen say that even if employers do their own training then local further education colleges may still be asked to accredit and award qualifications.
Young jobless people are given four options under the New Deal. They can take a job with a private or public sector employer, work for the voluntary sector, take a place on the new environmental task force, or enter full-time education and training.