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Compulsory training aims to get people back to work


Benefit claimants who need to improve their skills in order to get a job will have to attend compulsory training, under new proposals announced today by James Purnell and John Denham.

The move will be backed by "improvements" to the training system that will give adults access to a new 'skills account' to fund vocational courses.

Under the plans, published in a government welfare and skills paper Work Skills, people claiming Jobseekers Allowance who have gaps in their skills will have to attend training to help them find a job.

The government also announced that it intends to consult on making it compulsory for lone parents and people on Employment and Support Allowance to attend skills training.

The paper is published in recognition that, increasingly, it will not be the lack of jobs that will be the biggest barrier to full employment but the shortage of skills. It is backed by ambitious plans to overhaul the training system.

From this Autumn, all 19-25 years who do not have at least level 3 (A level) qualifications will be entitled to free training worth typically £7,000 to fund training to level 3.

The current limited offer for college based students studying in their own time will be extended to all 19-25 year olds, including those being trained at work. The government expects this will benefit around 100,000 19-25 year olds over the next three years.

Ministers are hoping the scheme will help ensure that young people who chose not to go to university will have support to continue their education and training.

Those young people, including those who may have achieved A levels, will also be entitled to an Apprenticeship Credit - a voucher for training that they can use to approach employers who may offer them an apprenticeship.

From 2010 the new scheme will form part of personal skills accounts that will be available to all adults and will guarantee free training for older people up to at least level 2 (GCSE equivalent).

In today's Paper, ministers will also announce a pilot to fund and support training up to Level 3 (A Level standard) for older adults who want to return to or move on in work in two regions - the South East and East Midlands. The pilots will be backed by £15m over the next three years and is expected to benefit around 20,000 adults.

John Denham, the secretary of state for innovation, universities and skills, said: "Increasingly it is not the shortage of jobs but the shortage of skills that will frustrate our ambitions of full employment and economic success. We know there are better jobs to come so we need to ensure people get the opportunity to get the better skills they need to secure them.

"By overhauling our welfare and training system we are only doing what is fair. Our aim is to give everyone the opportunity to make the most of their talents and secure their own prosperity through improving their chances to get and keep the jobs of the future. The steps we are announcing today are a key part of our plans."

Work Skills also sets out how the government will overhaul the skills and welfare systems in major cities. In Manchester and Birmingham the systems will be decentralised. The government hopes its reforms will help up to 75,000 people in the Birmingham city region and 30,000 in Greater Manchester.


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