Extra skills training to be offered to workers in England

In his pre-budget report, the Chancellor has announced that workers in England who have no basic qualifications or skills training under their belt will be offered additional skills training.

Describing the proportion of unskilled workers in the UK as its "Achilles heel," Gordon Brown said that a pilot scheme designed to encourage companies to train staff was to be extended nationally.

The Employer Training Programme aims to help those with no GCSE level qualifications by entitling them to time off to avail of the free training on offer.

Mr Brown said that almost a third of British workers had "low or no skills" - the highest proportion of unskilled labour in any of the major countries in the European Union.

He proposed an additional £10 a week allowance for those taking up the offer of training.

The Pre-Budget report noted that changes in patterns of employment and movement between jobs are a characteristic of a well-functioning, dynamic and flexible labour market. However, some people continually move between low-paid jobs and being out of work - trapped in a ‘low pay, no pay’ cycle. A quarter of those who leave Jobseeker’s Allowance to move into work return to benefits within three months, and almost 40% return within six months.

Mr Brown said that he was commissioning a Government study into the country's skills requirements. The study will be conducted by the Chair of the National Employment Panel and will assess the skills needs in the economy in the longer term.

The Learning and Skills Council (LSC), the body responsible for over-16 training in England, will expand the pilot scheme which will now command a £197 million budget set aside for the initial two-year programme due to start in 2006.

The LSC published its first annual report on skill priorities, which the Council said was "one of the biggest challenges facing the economy today".

Commenting on the Council's first annual report, Mark Haysom, Chief Executive of the Learning and Skills Council said: “The LSC is uniquely positioned to respond to the needs of employers. We want employers to invest in skills and we want them to do it with confidence rather than taking a gamble. Working with providers of learning and all our partners we will focus the investment of public money in delivering the skills needed by employers, adults and young people."

Mr Haysom said that this was essential to address the growth in the higher levels of skills needed and meet the needs of "more than two million people who do not have the skills that their employers require".


Related UK National News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

28 November 2003
UK employers to benefit from £46m skills boost
UK employers are set to receive a £46 million skills boost, thanks to extra investment in Skills for Business – a UK-wide network of employer-led Sector Skills Councils.
15 April 2005
Workplace racism is ‘damaging’ careers, TUC claims
Racism in the British workplace is “damaging” the career prospects of many black workers, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) has claimed. The TUC said that black workers get less training opportunities, although they are often better qualified than their white counterparts.
07 March 2011
£100m Investment In Skills To Drive Growth
Secretary of State for Business, Vince Cable, and Minister for Skills, John Hayes, today launched a £50 million a year fund to help businesses develop the skills they need to drive growth. The Growth and Innovation Fund (GIF) will deliver targeted help for employer groups to overcome barriers to growth within their sectors and industries.
16 November 2011
New Training Standards For Healthcare Workers
Measures to standardise the training of healthcare assistants have been unveiled by the Health Secretaryon Wednesday. Speaking at the NHS Employers conference in Liverpool, Andrew Lansley set out plans to develop a code of conduct and minimum training standards for healthcare support workers and adult social care workers in England.
22 March 2005
Government launches plan to boost workers' skills
The government has announced plans to tackle skills shortages among UK workers and help British companies compete with China, India and other emerging economies. Announcing the launch of the government's new Skills White Paper, Education Secretary Ruth Kelly pledged to put "an end to dead-end jobs".