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£300m pledged for training in return for skills targets


John Denham has anounced that £300m has been earmarked from its training budget to tackle current and future skills shortages within key sectors, as part of new deals or 'compacts' negotiated with industry bodies.

He hopes that the funding - £133m to help construction, £112m for hospitality and £62m for processing and manufacturing - will help employers in these sectors improve the qualifications and skills of their workforce, and offer greater numbers of apprenticeships.

The new compacts - essentially agreements with key industry organisations for more government funding in return for targets in training and skills - is the first major stage of a radical shake-up of the skills and training system, instigated by John Denham to tackle expected skills shortages. He expects to announce similar deals in the future.

In return for funding, the Sector Skills Councils, ConstructionSkills, People1st and Proskills, have pledged to encourage employers to take advantage of government initiatives such as Train to Gain, to make the Skills Pledge, to offer more Apprenticeships and to ensure their staff are given the opportunity to gain relevant qualifications and training. Government investment in Train to Gain will rise to over £1bn by 2011.

The first compact with Semta the SSC for the science, engineering and manufacturing industry, was announed earlier this month.

As part of his shake-up - which indicates that the issue of looming skills shortages has risen up the political agenda -John Denham is also meeting business leaders in Westminster today to discuss what can be done to plug the skills gap.

Mr Denham, the secretary of state for innovation, universities and skills John Denham, commented: "Industries such as construction, hospitality and processing are key to our future prosperity, but there is a need for more highly trained people if we are to continue to lead the world in an increasingly competitive global economy. The success of our country will depend on doing even more to increase people's skills and their ability to gain jobs in growing and successful industries, such as these.

"We've come a long way. Radical changes to the skills and training system over the past two years, making it more demand-led, have helped ensure that last year £38 billion was spent on training by British businesses.

"But more can be done. It's not enough to have a system that is demand-led. If we're going to skill people for the jobs of the future, then we must work closely with employers to identify those needs and ensure that training providers are ready to deliver. We've listened to employers and taken action to remove barriers to training. Now we must take it one step further."


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