From education to employment

Train to Gain brings benefits but suffers a lack of demand, says Ofsted

The Train to Gain programme is successfully motivating employees in the workplace, and giving them the opportunity to gain nationally recognised qualifications, according to a new Ofsted report. However, The impact of Train to Gain on skills in employment, published yesterday, noted that employers have been slow to take advantage of funding. Ofsted also warned that some employees aren’t always gaining the skills development they need.

Christine Gilbert, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, said: "It’s encouraging that Train to Gain is addressing the skills shortage, while also helping employers respond to increasing national and international competition. For many employees, this is the first opportunity they have had to gain a qualification since leaving school.

"However, there is scope for further development of the programme to ensure it meets some key challenges. Not enough employers are approaching providers to receive training, while some employees aren’t benefiting from the practical, higher level vocational skills, or skills for life such as numeracy and literacy, that are crucial for their career development."

The report evaluated training given to more than 13,000 employees, and inspectors found that participants made gains in their knowledge and self-confidence at work, while many employers reported improvements in work practice and staff retention. Despite most employers being very pleased with the training and assessment their staff received through the programme, it has not resulted in an increased employer demand for training.

The survey found that in some cases, especially in areas such as construction and care, employers see the programme as a way of “badging” employees to meet legislative or health and safety requirements, rather than developing the skills they already have. Employees with literacy and numeracy needs were found to rarely receive training or encouraged to improve their skills. For many private training providers, a lack of resources or specialist staff was to blame for the reluctance of employers to broach a lack of these skills with their staff.

Ofsted believe the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) should revisit the policy and framework design to enable providers to offer programmes leading to higher level technical skills, knowledge and understanding. The organisation wants the DIUS to explore other mechanisms for providing incentives to employers in order to drive employer demand for training.

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