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A week in training: The skills to beat recession


newsThe government puts £350m into training to shore up SMEs for the turbulent times ahead, and pledges £98m to boost skills in key sectors, plus more training news in this week's round-up.

Small businesses are to be the focus of a £350 million pound shake up of the training system. Skills secretary John Denham announced the deal with the promise that businesses would be able to get help with staff training with the “very minimum of bureaucracy.” He said: “Small businesses are an important engine of our economy and we must make sure that we support them during tough economic times.”

It was a move welcomed by the CIPD. Learning, Training and Development Adviser Dr John McGurk said: “The reduction in the level of bureaucracy will be well received by businesses, who according to our own research, cite the burden and complexity of the paperwork involved as a primary deterrent to state funded training.” But he warned that the investment must be effectively targeted to reap rewards.

The CBI was equally enthusiastic. “Given the economic circumstances, small firms will be evaluating their training decisions much more carefully,” said Deputy Director General, John Cridland. “So we welcome this greater flexibility in the publically-funded skills system.” He added: “Small businesses would be glad that the government is now taking action to help them through these exceptional economic times.”

But the Skills secretary didn't stop there. In a speech to the CBI on Friday, he announced £98 million of Government money would be targeted at industries vital for the future prosperity of the UK - including biotech, aerospace, pharmaceuticals, nuclear, energy conservation and hospitality sectors. He said that the government wants to ensure that British workers do not see jobs go abroad because overseas workers have higher skills, or that migrants are needed simply because local employees lack skills

The Government funding comes hot on the heels of an open letter published in national newspapers by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills calling for employers to commit to training despite the deteriorating economy. The letter, signed by industry leaders - including the Chairman of BT, the General Secretary of the TUC and the CBI Director General - said: “Investing now in building new skills will put us in the strongest position as the economy recovers.”


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