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UK spending on training has reached record levels, says DfEE


£23.5 billion was spent on training in the UK last year, more than in any previous year, according to figures released by the Department for Education and Employment this week.

The figures, which are made up of over £14bn for off-the-job training and £9bn for on-the-job training, show an increase of 25 per cent in real terms since 1993, according to the Learning and Training at Work 2000 report, which surveyed 4,000 employers across business sectors.

The survey found that 63 per cent of employers in 2000 offered at least one of eight nominated types of 'learning opportunity', with IT and 'managing their own development' most commonly offered. Only 45 per cent offered the chance to learn at work in 1999. Off-the-job training had been provided by two out of five employers in 2000 - an increase over the 34 per cent reported in the 1999 study.

Announcing the figures, Lifelong Learning Minister Malcolm Wicks said: "This shows that the importance of training is being increasingly understood by employers with them devoting more and more resources to investing in their staff. We can not be complacent, however, as this survey also shows that there are still a considerable number of employers who do not provide any training to their workforce, particularly among the smallest firms. Where training is provided, it is often the least qualified and lowest skilled workers that miss out."

The minister went on to stress the role that the Learning and Skills Council will be playing in 'making sure that employers understand how vital training is both to their employees and to their business prospects.' He added that one of the first projects for the LSC would be to assess local training needs and to work with business to make sure the training that is provided matches local needs.

Evidence that the LSC has already hit the floor running has appeared in the form of a survey of small businesses, published last week, reports news site Ananova. Although it seems likely that the study was already under way, the LSC has announced the results of the survey, looking at the effect of training on profits in small businesses, which finds that those spending an extra £50 a week on training see their profits grow nearly twice as fast as those not allocating extra funds.

Ananova quotes Bryan Sanderson, chairman of the LSC as saying: "Some businesses still question the impact of training on the bottom line. This research will pull them up short. We've put numbers of the small cost and huge reward to companies of investing in training. Businesses cannot simply afford not to invest in skills. No fine words will keep your business and your people competitive - it's money that talks in training as in most things."


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