David Blunkett has launched a training scheme aimed at countering employers' fears that newly-skilled staff will be poached.
The Secretary of State for Education and Employment last week announced that the department will contribute to loans to employers to train staff. The employer, rather than the individual, will be responsible for repayment - but this transfers to the new employer if the staff member leaves.
"Each employer would gain the full benefit of investment, paying for it over an extended period," Blunkett said.
"Employers are often reluctant to invest in training because they fear that trained employees would be poached by competitors."
The scheme is based on a recommendation from the Skills Task Force, headed by Chris Humphries. It would involve a partnership between the national training organisation setting up the scheme, administered by a bank. Government contributions come via its subsidies to NTOs.
Blunkett acknowledged there are severe skills shortages in certain sectors. He cited the gas industry, which registered only 128 new fitters last year, in an occupation where the workforce totals 100,000.