Train to Gain system is too complex, says Commons education and skills committee

The government’s flagship Train to Gain programme is “too bureaucratic” and overly complex, according to the Commons education and skills committee.

The report on post-16 skills described how firms had to sign 14 forms and use training agencies of varying quality to access the programme.

The MPs fear that much of the training funded under Train to Gain would have been paid for by employers anyway, and warned the government against making the programme its main vehicle for engaging with business.

About £900m of education funding is planned to be directed through Train to Gain by 2011.

Last month Personnel Today exclusively revealed Train to Gain was already failing to reach its targets less than a year after its launch. The service had reached only 70% of its target of 200,000 learners.

The committee’s report also expressed concern about the £30m spent on 400 ‘skills brokers’ to assess employers’ training needs.

“We are deeply concerned by some of the evidence we have received on Train to Gain brokerage, which raises questions about quality and suggests that in some cases brokers may be succeeding only in adding an extra, unwelcome layer of bureaucracy to the process,” said the report.

David Frost, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “Employers want to engage with the training system to ensure they have a workforce equipped to meet the challenges of the globalised economy yet, as the report identifies, are often frustrated by its complexity.”

But Mary Chapman, chief executive of the Chartered Management Institute, welcomed the call for a stronger focus on management skills.

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