The Conservatives will scrap Train to Gain if they come to power next year, Personnel Today has learned.
Shadow skills minister John Hayes said the government’s flagship skills brokerage service was a “massive dead weight cost” and he would look to transfer all of its £1bn budget to other skills projects, such as investing in higher-level skills.
It is thought to be the first time the Tories have openly admitted that they will abandon Train to Gain entirely. Last month at the Conservative Party Conference, shadow skills secretary David Willets insisted to Personnel Today that the service would “carry on” despite its budget being re-focused towards funding training for young people.
But at an All-Party Parliamentary Group on Management meeting last night, Hayes told Personnel Today: “Train to Gain would end under the Conservatives.
“The service has a massive dead weight cost. Money for Train to Gain will be transferred into a new budget.”
He added: “The few people that still support Train to Gain are really on thin ice – even the government is going to cut funding for it, even the government has run out of patience for it. The scheme accredits existing skills that are on offer and assesses rather than trains. It doesn’t focus on higher-level skills.”
A leaked Whitehall document revealed earlier this week found the government was considering axing £252m from key skills projects, including Train to Gain, adult apprenticeships and Skills for Life.
The paper, marked ‘Protected – Funding Policy’, was sent on 12 October by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) to the business secretary Peter Mandelson and the skills minister Kevin Brennan, and contained preferred options for cutting the £4bn skills budget.
Since 2006, 127,000 employers have used Train to Gain to offer their staff skills training. The latest figures also show that 12,791 employers have signed skills pledge – a commitment to train employees to Level 2.
Last year, an Ofsted report found there was “little evidence” that Train to Gain was driving up employer demand for training. HR directors told Personnel Today the service needed to adapt to survive the recession.
The government is due to publish a Skills White Paper this week, setting out a long-term plan for investment in skills to help the UK recover from the recession.
BIS was unavailable for comment this morning regarding Train to Gain.