Funding Changes Putting Skills Targets under Threat

Training providers are warning that changes to the funding for work-based training programmes are making it less likely that the UK’s long-term skills targets will be reached.

The unforeseen take-up of Train To Gain programmes and apprenticeships by employers, mainly as a result of a relaxation in the rules so more workers have become eligible, has squeezed the funding available. And future budgets are also in doubt because of concerns over the level of public debt and an overall reduction in public spending.

According to learning providers, changes announced at the end of March to the way they received money from the Learning and Skills Council, mean that many firms have had to stop enrolling new learners so that there is enough money available ensure that those learners who have already started their training can complete their programmes.

The changes, together with the redirecting of funding from basic skills to support unemployed people back to work, make it unlikely that Leitch Review’s skills targets will be reached by 2020, say providers.

They also warn that a reduction in funding for new learners would have “a catastrophic effect” on learning providers themselves and would place many at risk of closure. Many have already put a freeze on staff recruitment and are making redundancies already as a direct result. Apparently an increasing number of providers are turning to the European Social Fund for money as opposed to Train to Gain.

The LSC has admitted that training budgets will need to be managed to cope with the growth in demand for Train to Gain and apprenticeships. But it has guaranteed funding for all learners who began before 1 April for the duration of their training programmes. 

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