Train to Gain scheme failing to reach its targets less than a year after launch

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The £400m-per-year Train to Gain scheme – a key ingredient of the government’s skills plans – is already failing to reach its targets less than a year after its launch, Personnel Today can reveal.

Jaine Clarke, national director of skills for employers at the Learning and Skills Council, admitted the ‘skills broker’ service had missed its modest target of 200,000 learners to date.

The free skills brokerage service is crucial to the government’s bid to meet its Leitch Review target of increasing the proportion of adults holding Level 2 qualifications to 90% by 2020. Train to Gain’s annual targets will increase each year to getting 500,000 people to reach Level 2 in 2010.

Clarke told Personnel Today: “Train to Gain has engaged with 43,000 employers so far, and has about 70% of its target of 200,000 employees in training.”

And she admitted: “During 2008 we aim to have 350,000 learners who will have achieved a first full Level 2 qualification – 29,000 per month.”

Recent research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development found that only one in three employers with experience of Train to Gain was satisfied that it met their needs.

Despite this, skills secretary John Denham last week announced plans to make Train to Gain “a much broader service” when he set out the government’s response to the Leitch Review.

He also instigated a government U-turn when he announced a pilot scheme to “allow employers to award their own accredited qualifications”. Self-accreditation was ruled out by education secretary Alan Johnson only last month.

But manufacturing body the EEF said a lot of questions remained about how Leitch’s recommendations would be implemented.

An EEF spokesman told Personnel Today: “The number of skills bodies and their roles needs to be clearly defined. Where is the one single body for skills? The message we get from employers is that the [system] remains cluttered and muddled.”

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