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Brokers show LSC the way to engage

Questions which need to be asked about Train to Gain concern who is training and precisely who is gaining from this attempt to coax employers into improving the skills of their staff.

;Further Education The answer to the first question is clear, as we report on our front page. The number of workers taking up training is well short of expectations. As for who gains, one group which has undoubtedly benefited are the Train to Gain brokerages themselves.

Ministers say the scheme's success should not be measured in terms of how many people take up training. Instead, what matters is that brokers have "engaged" employers, even if that doesn't lead to a qualification.

How rich colleges would be if they could be funded on the basis that they "engage" students, regardless of the outcome.

Of course, for a broker to have "engaged" with an employer they need to have done more than simply drop off their business card. The image of spiv salesmen touring England making a living by merely going through the motions would be an unfair caricature of this breed of middlemen. Most are part of large, established organisations and all have to be qualified to give business advice.

The need for brokers exists because the Learning and Skills Council and the joined-up "learning and skills sector" is something of a mystery to many business people who have not taken the initiative to fully understand what is on offer.

The LSC needs to become the NHS of skills, one brand which industry recognises as the gateway to public training provision. Until then, brokers will continue to have a role, making sense of a confusing picture.

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