Conservative Party Conference: Train to Gain will not be scrapped, say Tories

Train to Gain will not be scrapped, but its budget will be refocused to help the young unemployed, the Conservatives have insisted.

Earlier in the week, the Tories revealed their Get Britain Working plans would be partly funded using the £1bn Train to Gain budget, sparking fears that the government’s flagship skills programme could be scrapped entirely.

But David Willetts, shadow secretary of state for universities and skills, told Personnel Today Train to Gain would continue to exist, but would be tailored towards creating more apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeship training places for young adults – leaving employers with little government support to train their older workers.

Willetts said: “What we are going to do is refocus Train to Gain. Our belief is that Train to Gain should be focused particularly on young people, who are the worst victims of the recession.

“Although it is desirable to support training for people in the workforce during the depths of recession, when there’s such an acute problem with youth unemployment, it’s right to try to refocus it on apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeship training places.”

Willetts added: “Train to Gain will carry on, but we will refocus it particularly on apprenticeships and training places.”

The Tories have predicted their Get Britain Working scheme could create 300,000 additional apprenticeships and training places over two years, with the number of opportunities created through the Young Apprenticeship scheme being increased from 10,000 to 30,000.

Train to Gain came into difficulty earlier this year when demand from employers outstripped the budget available. Some employers have also continued to voice their concerns over gaining access to funding under the programme, saying it is bureacratic and complicated.

What is Train to Gain?

Train to Gain was set up by Labour in 2006 to offer employers a skills brokerage service. Trained advisers help companies decide what their skills needs are, and firms bid for money from the £1bn budget. Since 2006, 127,000 employers have used Train to Gain. In 2008, the service was criticised for under-spending on its budget by £200m. Read a detailed guide on Train to Gain.

Coverage of Cameron’s speech on Thursday

Personnel Today will be covering David Cameron’s speech to the conference live on Thursday at 2pm, with the help of three leading employment panelists from the EEF, the Work Foundation and the Institute of Employment Studies. Make sure you log on to on Thursday to see the latest employment news being reported as it happens, with expert commentary on what this means for HR professionals.

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