The government should re-direct £4bn of public money used to fund Train to Gain and other basic skills training towards programmes with greater economic returns, according to the CBI.
The business group has urged the government to take money from the Train to Gain and Skills for Life budgets in a bid to reform adult skills funding and help the UK become more competitive as it emerges from the recession.
It warned that the UK needs to address high-level skills shortages in areas such as science, technology and engineering, rather than continue to plough money into the number of people completing Level 2 courses (the equivalent of five GCSEs).
The government is due to publish a skills White Paper later this week, outlining planned reforms to the skills system.
Susan Anderson, CBI director of education and skills policy, said: “The government must put the £4bn of public money it spends on adult skills to more effective use, especially when there is pressure on the public finances and on business competitiveness.
“Tough choices need to be made. Public spending must be focused on the valuable skills that will drive growth and employment prospects.”
She added that businesses spent £39bn a year on training, and called for greater simplicity for firms wishing to access public funding to develop higher level skills.
The CBI will today publish a document, Reforming skills funding – delivering productive results, outlining the proposed skills reforms.
It will call for greater support for apprenticeships, and for priority funding to advance science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills to boost growth in areas such as low carbon technology.