MPs criticise government skills scheme

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A committee of MPs has criticised the government's Train to Gain skills system for being complex, bureaucratic and not 'demand-led'.

The Education and Skills Committee report Post-16 skills supported the principles behind Train to Gain, but raised serious concerns about its implementation.

It found that funding for Train to Gain was unduly restrictive, preventing real choices for employers, and the inclusion of 'skills brokers' served only as "an extra, unwelcome layer of bureaucracy".

The Committee also warned that Train to Gain may be subsidising training that employers would otherwise have paid for themselves.

The report suggested that emphasising training alone is not enough. Increased economic prosperity requires urgent support for employers to address skills needs alongside "wider sustainability issues such as capital investment, innovation and workforce planning."

The complexity of the skills system was also questioned. The report suggests that there is still "significant work to be done" to tackle overlap between the numerous skills agencies.

MPs said the current system could also be very confusing to learners and proposed improvements to adult advice and guidance needed to be implemented urgently.

The Chairman of the Education and Skills Committee, Mr Barry Sheerman MP, said: "We very much welcome the increased focus on skills, but some crucial issues need addressing if the Government's high ambitions are going to be realised. More 'demand-led' learning is a good idea in principle, but it is not currently being translated into practice. It is vital that we get skills policy right."

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