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Low Skilled Workers to get Free Training


Employer Training Pilots (ETPs) are to be extended across England, Chancellor Gordon Brown announced in his Pre-Budget Report.

The pilots, launched in 2002, aim to help low-skilled people in work gain basic skills or their first level 2 qualification (equivalent to 5 GCSEs grades A-C).

Currently available in a third of England, ETPs offer low skilled employees paid time off work to train, wage compensation for employers for giving this time off work and free or subsidised training.

Rollout of the National Employer Training Pilot will start in 2006 and cover the whole country by 2008.

The new scheme will also offer financial support for level 3 qualifications, for those who can jump straight to this level (A level equivalent), training brokers to help tailor training to the needs of the employer and links with Jobcentre Plus to help those starting work get the skills needed by their new employer.

The Chancellor said that 30% of employees have low or no skills – the highest proportion in Europe. This group are also four times less likely to get training in work than the highly skilled.

"For decades low skills have been our 'Achilles' Heel' as a modern economy - and the post-war 'laissez faire' training system has not, and will not, meet the skills needs of the future," he said.

An Institute for Employment Studies report, published last year, judged ETPs to have been 'successful in getting substantial numbers of employers involved in training their low-skilled employees to qualifications'.

The IES study found that at the end of the first year, over 3,000 employers and 14,000 employees were involved in the scheme, with a drop out rate of just 4%.

Over 70% of employers taking part had fewer than 50 employees and 40% had no previous contact with a government agency, suggesting that ETPs are reaching workplaces where training has not been a high priority in the past.


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