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The National Employer Training Programme is to be rolled out from April next year, following a successful pilot scheme that has seen almost 23,000 employers in England take part to date. The programme is part of the Learning and Skills Council's (LSC) Level 2 Entitlement scheme in which eligible adults can qualify for fully funded Level 2 skills training.

Employer Training Pilots (ETPs) have already been in operation around the country since September 2002 and will provide the basis for the creation of the national programme. ETPs will continue to run until the national programme is launched.

The Scheme

The Employer Training Scheme provides employed adults who do not already have a full Level 2 qualification access to Skills for Life and Level 2 qualifications and information and advice through their employer. The cost of training is fully remitted to the employer and training can take place either at the employer location or out of hours. If employees take time off to study during working hours the employer may receive a contribution to the employee's wage costs.

The service, which is aimed primarily at small and medium sized organisations, offers both employees and their employers the opportunity to discuss training needs, and sources training providers.

Plus ĉa change"¦

The final draught of the National Employer Training Programme will be "slightly different" from the content of the individually tailored pilot schemes, which are varied according to the region they operate in. However, those elements of the pilots identified by an LSC report on ETPs as most valued by employers, namely flexible training arrangements and course subsidisation, will be at the heart of the national programme.

David Way, Skills Director at the LSC, believes the "huge appetite for training" that exists has been successfully met by the ETPs, which have seen 182,000 employees involved across 20 areas.

"The report reinforces the view that employees just want to be given the opportunity to improve their skills. However, smaller organisations often find it difficult to find the budget to enable them to do this. Employer Training Pilots have demonstrated that with the right support all employers will provide their staff with training and high-quality, subsidised courses that can take place on-site or out of hours are particularly important," said Way.

The evaluation of the pilot schemes has shown that over two-thirds of employees taking part in the scheme will complete their course or qualification. Funding for training has been especially welcomed by smaller organisations with 70 per cent of companies taking part employing less than 50 people and a quarter employing fewer than ten.

Level 2 Entitlement is part of the government's commitment to help unskilled or low skilled adults gain the skills needed to improve their employment opportunities, and to ensure that Britain competes effectively in the global marketplace.

Brandon Cheevers

Do you welcome the national programme? Tell us in the FE Blog

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