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Train to Gain slammed in NAO report

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Train to Gain, the government’s £1.5 billion flagship scheme aimed at improving the skills of workers has not provided good value for money, according to an official report.

A combination of over ambitious targets and inconsistencies in its initial implementation since its launch in 2006 have all contributed to a reduction in its efficiency, said the National Audit Office's report. Not only was take up much lower than expected at first, but the report also found that learners' success rates have varied "substantially".

The NAO said the current strong demand for training needed to be better managed to make the programme sustainable while avoiding overspending but added that Train for Gain had supported training for more than a million learners, and developed a skills service which had brought "undoubted benefits" to employers.

Commenting on the report, Susan Anderson, the CBI’s director of education and skills, said: “The government has invested heavily in Train to Gain, and many employers have seen improvements in business performance – more motivated staff and better customer service – as a result.

“But the Government must do more, especially at a time when funding is tight, to deliver greater bang for its buck. It must ensure its training and support are better tailored to what firms need.”

More than half a million learners achieved a qualification through the scheme, often their first one, while some employers taking part had not offered any training before, said the report. Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said: "Train to Gain is achieving growth in training that employers value, but taxpayers have a right to expect that much more than half of the public funding should result in training that would not otherwise have occurred.

"Inconsistent management contributed to a slow start to the programme, followed by rapid growth and now the risk of demand exceeding budgets. We also need to see evidence that money is directed more to areas of greatest need, with training providers who do the best job for their learners and on bringing the whole range of business benefits to employers," she added.

You can download the entire NAO report here.

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