Compulsory training set to fill benefit claimants’ skills gaps

Benefit claimants who need to improve their skills to get a job will have to attend compulsory training under proposals unveiled by the government.

Under the plans, published in government welfare and skills paper Work Skills, people claiming jobseekers allowance who have skills gaps, such as basic maths and English, will have to attend training to help them find a job. The approach will be tested on a trial basis from the autumn, with a view to extending it across the board.

The government also intends to consult on making it compulsory for lone parents and people on the new Employment and Support Allowance to attend skills training.

The scheme is backed by ambitious plans to overhaul the training system.

From this autumn, all 19 to 25-year-olds who do not have at least level 3 (A-level) qualifications will be entitled to free training typically worth £7,000. The current offer is limited to college-based students studying in their own time, but will eventually be extended to all in this age group, including those being trained at work.

Work and pensions secretary James Purnell said: “Signing up for benefits should be a contract for individuals to do whatever they can to get themselves into work. Skills training is pivotal in getting people equipped to work.

“We want to ensure that we give people the help they need to get back on their own two feet. But it’s a two-way responsibility – that’s why we want to make sure that everyone who needs training is required to do it as part of their benefit.”

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