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‘learndirect’ helpline takes its millionth call


The learndirect helpline, the national learning information freephone helpline set up by the Government in February 1998, has received its one millionth call, just under two years after it was launched.

The Secretary of State announced this during a visit to the purpose-built Stockport County Football Club Learning Centre, which overlooks the football ground. The learning centre is one of the 68 learndirect development centres in England announced by Ufi in November last year. The learning centres are in friendly, easy-access locations such as sports and shopping centres, community centres, churches, railway stations and libraries.

The learndirect helpline was set up to provide a high quality, easily accessible, impartial and free telephone information and advice concerning learning and work, and related guidance and support issues. In May 1999, Ufi took over responsibility for running the helpline from the Department for Education and Employment.

Learning information is provided to callers by qualified learning advisers and information advisers working at call centres in Manchester and Glasgow. There are four helpline access points in Wales staffed by learning advisers. All learning and information advisers have access to a database of over half a million learning opportunities throughout England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The information on learning opportunities available through the learndirect helpline will also be available through the learndirect website when it is launched in the spring.
An average of over 2,000 calls per day were handled by the Manchester call centre between April and December 1999. There were peaks of 160,000 and 90,000 calls per month in May and November respectively, when the helpline number was trailed on BBC television as part of its Webwise campaign, aimed at giving adults confidence on how to use the internet.

Caller satisfaction levels have been consistently high since the helpline was launched, with a minimum of 90 per cent of callers surveyed agreeing that the quality of the helpline service is good. The most recent customer satisfaction survey, which covers the period October to December 1999, records a cumulative total of 93 per cent of callers surveyed agreeing with the statement that the overall quality of the helpline service was good. 90 per cent of respondents said that they would recommend the learndirect helpline to a friend.

The Secretary of State commented: "The arrival of the one millionth call in Manchester marks a milestone for lifelong learning in the UK. The learndirect helpline is still under two years old, and has already helped thousands of people across the country plan their careers by raising awareness of relevant learning and training opportunities. Lifelong learning needs to enable everyone to take responsibility for and have the opportunity to create a better future for themselves to ensure the UK's industry maintains the ability to compete."


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