Train to Gain needs to adapt to employer needs

The government’s much-heralded Train to Gain service needs to adapt to deliver what employers need during the economic downturn, HR chiefs have warned.

Leading HR directors said the current skills brokerage system does not provide enough funds for small-scale training, instead encouraging employees to take up lengthy qualifications.

In the current financial climate, employers are increasingly redeploying staff into new roles, and often need to give them small chunks of training to help them cope.

Sean Wheeler, group director of people development at hotel chain Malmaison, told Personnel Today: “When companies are looking to downsize, there is a need to have a cross-training programme so people can learn new skills. There needs to be more flexibility in funding from the government.”

Earlier this month, an Ofsted report found “little evidence” that the brokerage service was driving up employer demand for training. It recommended that the government should provide better incentives for employers to use it.

Mick Leafe, HR director at bus operator Nottingham City Transport, said employers would use Train to Gain more if they could tailor funding better.

“Just throwing money at generic training regardless of how critical it is to an industry sector is not a very clever move,” he said.

Simon Nathan, senior policy adviser at the CBI, agreed: “There are problems over [studying for] full qualifications, re-training and funding for Level 3.”

Nathan welcomed the £350m package of measures to make Train to Gain more flexible for small and medium-sized businesses announced in October, but added: “There are things in the package that would benefit other [larger] firms.”

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