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Lean times ahead for skills funding


The skills industry is split over whether the coalition government's plans to divert funding from a vocational training scheme in order to create extra apprenticeship places would be a positive move or not.

According to a survey undertaken by the World of Learning Conference & Exhibition (WLCE) organisation in June, 50.9% of respondents do not agree with government proposals to cut £200m from the Train to Gain budget and to use £150m of it to create 50,000 extra apprenticeship positions, while the rest do.
Some 48.4% believed that both Train to Gain and apprenticeship programmes were both very important and required substantial investment, while 2.5% said that, in their opinion, Train to Gain provided more value than apprenticeship schemes.
But 38.5% of those questioned felt the opposite. They thought that, given current budgetary pressures, it was right to scale back Train to Gain as the initiative was not sufficiently effective to continue in its present form. A further 8.1% claimed that the programme had delivered no tangible benefits and that funds could be better spent elsewhere.
Andrew Gee, WLCE's senior project manager, said: "The government has clearly divided the learning and development community on this issue as more than half disagree with the cuts. Yet, with almost half also dissatisfied with Train to Gain as it is and agreeing with plans to change it, the industry is split almost down the middle."
This situation implied that there would be some interesting debates to follow on how to implement change, he added.
Train to Gain is a government-funded initiative intended to provide vocational training to workers who do not have Level 2 Qualifications. It was first introduced in September 2006 and is backed by the Skills Funding Agency.
Elsewhere, Proskills, the Sector Skills Council for the Process and Manufacturing sector, announced that it was close to securing £3.7m in skills funding, after having its bid accepted by the Skills Funding Agency's Joint Investment Programme (JIP).
JIP is a 50-50 public and private sector match funding scheme that is intended to support training and skills development in areas that are deemed key to economic recovery and future economic growth.
Proskills was one of 21 organisations that submitted an 'expression of interest' to JIP, with the aim of training young workers in particular in the area of low carbon technologies, which include energy and waste reduction and alternative fuels.
The bid was made on behalf of more than 80 process and manufacturing firms and, if successful, could fund training for about 12,000 learners. Proskills is now preparing a detailed plan and the winners will be announced in September.

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