The multi-million pound Train to Gain scheme is being held back by the way its much-vaunted ‘skills brokers’ are selling the service, according to business leaders.
Neil Carberry, CBI head of pensions and employment, told Personnel Today that brokers were letting an obsession with Level 2 training get in the way of offering effective advice.
Train to Gain, which has a budget of £400m this year, is seen by the government as a vital part of the solution to the national skills crisis. It sends brokers into companies to offer free advice on training schemes that will suit their needs.
The ailing scheme has targets that rise each year, with the aim of giving 500,000 people Level 2 skills in 2010 alone. However, it missed its modest aim of 200,000 learners in the year to July 2007.
Carberry said: “In essence, Train to Gain is a good programme. But it requires proactive brokers. We don’t want them just selling Level 2 training and not thinking about Levels 3 and 4. Firms think more in terms of competency than levels.”
The scheme’s official website says that skills brokers should always provide independent and comprehensive advice to help develop productive relationships with employers. But Carberry is not convinced this is happening enough in practice.
“There needs to be more of an account management feel when brokers go into companies,” he said. “It must be in [their] minds to build long-term relationships.”