Thursday, 21 January 2010

Damning verdict on Train to Gain

"A £1.5bn government initiative to improve the skill levels of employees has been heavily criticised by MPs", reports the BBC. "Train to Gain" was launched in 2006, through contracts with private sector companies. It was intended to encourage employers to put their workers through qualifications at NVQ level 2, by paying their wages for the time they spent in training. A4e won the contracts in many areas, and it was clear from the outset that there was a tortuous administration system and unrealistic targets. The Public Accounts Committee blames the Learning and Skills Council, which was responsible for organising the scheme, and says that "Success rates for too many providers had been lower than expected .......... It also said £112m spent on skills advisers was not good value for money." An Ofsted report in 2008 was largely positive but criticised the "brokerage" layer of the contracts. The Chair of the PAC said: "Despite providing work-based training for around 5% of the workforce, the Train to Gain programme has been mismanaged from the outset. In the face of evidence of what was achievable, targets for the first two years were unrealistically ambitious. The number of learners, the level of demand from employers and the capacity of training providers were at first all overestimated. By the third year, demand for training, fuelled by substantially widened eligibility for the programme and by the recession, had increased to the point where the programme could no longer be afforded."
A4e is the "National Lead Provider for Train to Gain" through the A4e Consortium. But the responsibility lies with the LSC and, ultimately, with the government.

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