Training vouchers plan

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Air Miles-type vouchers, designed to encourage individuals and organisations to pay more attention to training and educating themselves continually, are being planned as part of a campaign to "market learning like washing powder" and create a "learning society" in Britain by the year 2000.

The voucher scheme has not been finalised. As envisaged, it would link high-street retailers with education providers to give customers money off learning programmes around the country.

It is just one of a number of initiatives being proposed under the Campaign For Learning, launched in the City of London yesterday. The campaign is backed by the Government, education providers and business leaders, such as the BA chairman and incoming president of the Confederation of British Industry, Sir Colin Marshall, and Rover Group's chief executive, John Towers.

It seeks to halt Britain's slide down the world's economic league tables by changing attitudes towards learning.

Sir Christopher Ball, chairman of the campaign, said at the event, which was addressed by the Secretary of State for Education and Employment, Gillian Shephard, that the "mission is to persuade people that they should care about their personal learning in the same way that they we are all gradually learning to care about the environment and our own health".

The initiative was organised by the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce, where Sir Christopher is director of learning, and has sufficient funds to take it until the year 2000. But it hopes to obtain pounds 4m a year from business to finance the marketing effort, which is to be headed by the former Lever Brothers chief executive Andrew Seth.