The Government is introducing a system of industry-based transferable loans as part of its drive to overcome skills gaps. NTOs are responsible for developing the scheme, which is being piloted by the gas industry. Alison Thomas canvasses opinions on its value
Chief executive, NTO National Council
The training loan scheme should not be seen in isolation and is one of a number of ideas which NTOs are testing with employers in different industries.
The aim is to overcome the two main hurdles which discourage employers from investing in training - insufficient cashflow upfront and uncertainty over return for investment.
Money is loaned at an attractive rate and repaid in instalments after successful completion of the training. If an employee moves to another company during payback time, either the employee or their new employer takes over responsibility for outstanding payments.
To work effectively it must bring clear benefits both to the business and the individual, who is rewarded by a salary increase. It also requires commitment from everyone involved.
This is not a scheme imposed from outside. It is a partnership between Government, employers and individuals working together to address a shared problem and develop practical solutions. No two schemes will be the same as each one will be tailored to fulfil the needs of the industry concerned.
Strategic planning manager, Gas Industry NTO
When it was a nationalised company, British Gas charged a premium price for a premium product and invested some of the profits in training. With privatisation, however, the industry has become fragmented and with the pressures of competition, training has been neglected.
Only 128 new engineers joined the council for registered gas installers (CORGI) last year. This compares with an annual intake of 2,500 apprentices under the nationalised British Gas.
Employers are concerned, but they cannot tackle the problem on an individual basis as training is a drain on scarce financial resources and the poaching rate is high. The training loan scheme is an attempt to address this. It is not a panacea that will solve all th