Skills minister calls for more flexible training

The government is urging closer working ties between skills brokers and employers in an effort to increase the take-up of the Train to Gain initiative.

The Learning and Skills Council scheme offers employers free training for staff to achieve basic skills and Level 2 qualifications.

The scheme has already reached 38,000 businesses since rolling out in August 2006 with the aim of improving productivity and competitiveness in the workplace.

Skills minister Phil Hope told Personnel Today the government was working with training organisations to ensure they adopt a flexible approach, including flexible hours and schedules that suit employers. “Brokers should be proactive and willing to go to employer offices if needed. This is a demand-led training strategy,” he said.

A report will be published later this year on the trajectory of the scheme over a period of three years.

The government allocated a budget of £230m in 2006, increased to £399m in 2007, and £427m in 2008. “As the budget increases, we expect to see a greater take-up,” said Hope. “The government aims to have 500,000 people using Train to Gain by 2010.”

The government has set itself an ambitious target of 95% literacy for all adults by 2020, in line with the Leitch Review. It found that the extra cost of realising this ambition will increase over time to between £3bn and £4bn a year by 2020.

Hope said the responsibility for achieving such aims should be shared between government, employers and individuals.

“Employers are beginning to recognise the value of training and its potential high return on investment, as highlighted by the Leitch Review, which estimated an overall net benefit of £80bn over 30 years,” he said.

Last week, the government pledged to raise the basic skills of more than 475,000 public sector staff in 19 departments.

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