Employers and unions welcome £11bn government investment in apprenticeship schemes

Government plans to pump extra cash into skills training and dramatically increase the number of apprenticeship schemes have been welcomed by both employers and unions.

Skills secretary John Denham announced that more than £11bn a year over the next three years will be invested in education, employment and training initiatives for young people and adults to help boost the UK’s job prospects.

The total number of apprenticeship schemes will rise from 250,000 to 400,000 by 2010-11, Denham said.

For the first time, funding will be specifically targeted at expanding apprenticeships for adults aged over 25. This will mean 30,000 additional apprenticeships costing £90m over the next three years.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) said it welcomed the plans, but real progress would only be made when an understanding of what skills were required, and how they are used to deliver value in the workplace, was achieved.

John McGurk, CIPD learning, training and development adviser, said: “Success can only be achieved by working with employers and understanding their needs, rather than through grand announcements and initiatives thrown around like confetti.”

Susan Anderson, CBI director of HR policy, said: “Today’s announcements are a welcome step towards boosting the talent pool of the British workforce, which faces growing competition and expectations – especially in a global economy.

“Employers are prepared to play their part and are already spending £33bn a year on training employees. But it is disappointing that many of the initiatives announced today are necessarily focused on fixing basic skills that should have been learned in school.”

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “Increasing investment in skills will support economic growth and productivity, help employees to progress at work, and provide more sustainable employment opportunities for those seeking work.

“It is now time for more employers to step up to the mark and offer more training, including high quality, work-based apprenticeship places.”

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