Most UK companies are missing out on free or low-cost training

Nearly two-thirds of businesses in England ignore free or low-cost training, according to research from the Learning and Skills Council (LSC).

The survey of more than 890 businesses found that 62% of those polled do not use the further education (FE) sector to train staff, even though many free or low-cost courses are offered. And 43% don’t even know that they can access subsidised employee training at FE colleges.

LSC spokesman Ray Dowd, who is in charge of its agenda for change, said: “The research shows that thousands of companies are missing out on a host of business benefits through a lack of awareness of low-cost or free training available at FE colleges and other local providers.”

But the research indicated that those companies that used FE colleges to train employees had benefited as a result. Of the 356 businesses polled that had used the FE sector, 92% said they had benefited, while 54% said the training had increased productivity.

Sixty-four per cent said it had boosted staff motivation, while 49% claimed it had helped employee retention.

The LSC’s findings were backed by Federation of Small Business spokesman Simon Briault, who said “our research estimates only 4% of small businesses use government support services.”

Meanwhile, the government’s skills envoy Sir Digby Jones recently claimed that the LSC was failing to get its message across, and that much of its £11bn budget Ð which is more than the Royal Navy’s – was wasted. Speaking on NNC radio Four’s File on 4 programme, he said: “The money has not been spent in the right way, and it is not delivering what the employers want.”

The LSC research was recently carried out via e-mail by pollster YouGov, and surveyed small and large companies from several sectors.

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