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Budget 2008: Extra £60m for UK skills


Alistair Darling has announced that an extra £60m will be spent on improving skills levels of the country's workforce.
In a speech that was scant on detail as to how this would be spent in practice, he said the government wanted to ensure that every UK adult had the opportunity to access investment in their skills.

The chancellor pledged £60m over the next three years to enable "leading employers" to take on new apprentices.

In a development of the government's Train to Gain initiative, the investment will provide new opportunities for people to realise their talents, offer adults a second chance to retrain and will be used to test new ways of delivering training.

The Confederation of British Industry said that the move would ensure public funding follows the needs of employers and employees more closely. "The focus must be on developing the economically valuable skills the UK needs to compete," said Richard Lambert, director-general of the CBI.

"Today's announcement of additional funding for intermediate skills and adult apprenticeships is welcome, as employers' skills needs are often at these higher levels."

The announcement was met with cautious welcome by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development: "CIPD has called for further support for employers taking on apprentices," said Gerwyn Davies, CIPD public policy adviser. "We are keen to see the detail of the government's proposals trailed in today's budget."

The government has also produced a 10-year strategy aiming to make the UK the best place to start and grow new business, nurturing the most "enterprising" economy in the world.

Skills development and training will be offered to 16 to 19 year olds through a new National Enterprise Academy, partly funded by UK entrepreneur Peter Jones.

Other measures include additional support for young entrepreneurs, women and people over 50, and a raft of actions including business mentoring, work placements, skills training and access to business support.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) welcomed the budget, saying "no news is good news" for HR.

Commenting on the Chancellor's budget announcement, the CIPD said that employers would welcome the "breathing space" and the additional resources for skills.

Gerwyn Davies, CIPD public policy adviser, said: "While we endorse the additional resources allocated to welfare reform and skills that build on existing initiatives, the CIPD welcomes the breathing space that the [budget] announcement offers to our members, who have had to contend with streams of employment legislation and initiatives in recent years - albeit many of them well received and positive for the workplace.

"With recent CIPD research showing a record number of our members planning to carry out redundancies in the next three months, however, all efforts now need to be directed towards optimising organisational performance and minimising redundancies so that organisations are well placed to capitalise on any recovery in economic performance."


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