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Welfare Reform on the Web (March 2010): Education - UK - training

Green jobs and skills

Environmental Audit Committee

London: TSO, 2009 (House of Commons papers, session 2009/10; HC 159)

The Climate Change Act 2008 provides for legally binding carbon reduction targets. Employment opportunities in low-carbon industries are significant. To take advantage of these in the face of global competition the Government must move quickly to identify those sectors in which the UK can take a lead. It must develop a strategy that encourages investment both by reducing barriers to growth and by ensuring a stable demand for low-carbon products and services. The Low Carbon Industrial Strategy goes some way to achieving these two aims. It is actively targeting the renewable energy sector but does not effectively address a transition across the whole economy. Industry leaders and investors must be reassured that the Government is committed to long-term support for low-carbon industries. The Committee on Climate Change has identified key sectors in which energy savings must be made. The Government's strategy on green jobs must be directly linked to these sectoral targets and green industries developed to achieve them. In particular a 'quick win' street by-street programme of energy saving measures for households must be developed as a priority. Relying exclusively on the market to address skills gaps is causing delays in greening the economy. The demand-led approach to skills has not worked because employers are unable effectively to articulate their needs to the skills delivery bodies. The Government's new skills strategy must prioritise the skills needed to drive the economy through the low carbon transition. A body to lead the green skills agenda must be found and low-carbon skills need to be integrated through the whole skills delivery system to encourage behavioural change across the entire economy.

Skills for growth

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

London: TSO, 2009 (Cm 7641)

The paper focuses on the twin objectives of providing wider and more flexible access to skills and training and ensuring that provision is designed to deliver relevant skills for the modern world of work. While there is to be increased funding for advanced level apprenticeships, government has signalled that money will have to be found from within existing budgets. The six headline priorities covered in detail are:

  • Increasing the number of people with advanced skills
  • Expanding apprenticeships for young adults and improving the links between these and higher education
  • Improving the responsiveness of the skills system to the needs of employers, and providing businesses with more power to shape training provision
  • Rolling out skills accounts and increasing learner choice to improve lifelong learning
  • Encouraging greater levels of business investment in the skills of their workforces, in part by proceeding with legislation to give workers a right to request time to train.
  • Improving the quality of training provision in colleges and the private and third sectors.

(For summary see Working Brief, issue 209, Nov. 2009, p. 6-8)

Train to gain: developing the skills of the workforce

Committee of Public Accounts

London: TSO, 2010 (House of Commons papers, session 2009/10; HC 248)

Train to Gain has delivered a substantial expansion of training that is flexible and meets employers' needs. By July 2009, 1.4 million learners had been supported, and around 200,000 employers had staff involved in training through the programme. Most learners have benefited and some employers have seen business benefits. There have, however, been serious weaknesses in the way the programme has been managed by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC). It started badly with over-ambitious targets, and under-spending in the first two years as the programme failed to sufficiently expand demand for, and supply of, training. In year three, eligibility for training was widened which, together with the recession, increased the attractiveness of the programme for employers. At the same time training providers were still being pressed to increase training activity. These factors led to a swing from under-spend to overspend, resulting in the current unacceptable position where too much training is in the pipeline and employers with new requirements are being turned away. For Train to Gain, the priority is to bring expenditure under control while minimising damage to training providers and the demand for training. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the LSC should focus expenditure on training with the most benefits, in sectors with the highest needs, and with providers who offer good quality training. The Skills Funding Agency, which is to take over the LSC's responsibility for Train to Gain in April 2010, should address these issues in the future running of Train to Gain and in their management of other demand-led training programmes, such as Skills Accounts.

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