Extra training cash for firms redresses 'failure of education'

By Rick Pendrous

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Apprenticeship

Extra training cash for firms redresses 'failure of education'
Skills proposals win approval from food and drink training body

Jack Matthews, chief executive of Improve, the food and drink sector skills council (SSC), has called on firms to respond positively to the government's new skills white paper, saying the proposed skills academies and skills passports deserved support.

Improve is already developing a vocational skills academy open to, and co-sponsored by, employers. This month it is also launching its Green Card passport (see HR supplement with this issue) with the backing of Jobcentre Plus.

"So the challenge to employers is: put your hands in your pockets and you will have a say not only in your academy but also in developing the prospectus for a national course system," said Matthews.

The academy would maintain the UK's productivity edge over the rest of the European Union, he said. Although Matthews regretted that employer-led SSCs would not be at the heart of the white paper's proposed brokerage service to identify training needs, funding and provision, he welcomed the £65m extension of the Employer Training Programme for 2005--06 and the rolling out of a National Employer Training Programme (NETP) for England and Wales between 2006 and 2008, announced in the Budget. Mat-thews said they helped redress "the failure of the education system"

The government will also pick up the tab for all Level 2 training, including literacy, numeracy and interpersonal skills, which previously fell to employers to fund.

Matthews praised plans to deliver money direct to employers rather than training providers under the NETP and the financial support being offered for pilot schemes covering Level 3 technician and technical grade skills.

He was also pleased by a proposed increase in apprenticeships to 300,000 by 2008.

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