From education to employment

Flexible New Deal to struggle without Train to Gain support

Vast numbers of unemployed will have to make do without Train to Gain support to up-skill once they land jobs through the Government’s Flexible New Deal (FND) programme.

Parts of the UK will roll-out FND contracts in October, and the Government hopes it will eventually replace all New Deal provisions except NDDP and NDLP. FND providers are paid on sustained job entries and have the freedom to choose what their customers will do. However, funding shortages now mean customers will be unable to improve their skills through the Train to Gain programme until at least April 2010.

The Association of Learning Providers (ALP) has warned that a lack of funding from the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) poses a real threat to the UK’s ability to prepare for the economic upturn.

ALP’s chief executive, Graham Hoyle, told FE News: "Another major concern is that as the Government’s new Flexible New Deal gets underway, providers and employers will now not easily get previously unemployed people who do land jobs on to Train to Gain. Giving these people skills on the programme would significantly increase their chances of securing sustainable employment."

Sally Hunt, general secretary of UCU, said "This is another slap in the face for further education colleges and UCU members. It is particularly galling that colleges were encouraged to go out and find Train to Gain business only for the funding to be slashed. It is all too reminiscent of the college building crisis.

"The inevitable result will be job losses at a time when we need to be upskilling and reskilling the growing number of unemployed people. We need to end stop-go policies and return some stability to the sector so we that can get on with the important business of teaching and learning."

In a statement, LSC pointed to soaring demand from employers seeking new skills to help them battle the recession. As a result, it will "deliver 100,000 more starts and learners over the two years 2008/09 and 2009/10 than planned".

LSC continued: "The Department for Business Innovation and Skills and the Learning and Skills Council are considering ways to make even more support available to employers while ensuring that we remain within the budget available.

"The LSC is committed to funding the very significant number of Train to Gain learners that were in place prior to April 2009, with new starts being taken on where they can be accommodated within the budget thereafter."


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