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Firms could earn stars for training

A STAR-rating system could be introduced to highlight the companies which provide the best on-the-job training.

The Adult Learning Inspectorate, which already has responsibility for government-funded workplace training, is considering offering its services more widely to businesses which do training entirely at their own expense.

Richard Handover, the ALI's new chairman and chief executive of WH Smith, says the scheme would help potential recruits identify employers who are most likely to provide quality training.

He is due to meet the company which runs the Investors in People programme later this year to discuss a possible partnership to promote voluntary inspection.

The idea is welcomed by the Institute of Directors - most of whose members are involved in small and medium-sized firms, which account for most of the UK's business activity.

Richard Wilson, the IOD's business policy executive, said: "I would guess most of our members would be happy with this proposal, provided that the inspection process is not too burdensome and bureaucratic, because this can be particularly problematic for small and medium-sized business.

"I'm not sure that the ALI is a well-known brand in the way that the Office for Standards in Education is, and it has a way to go with that, which might be an issue.

"Having said that, the ALI is not as controversial as OFSTED has been in the past, which might be to its benefit."

The inspectorate has been approached by a number of companies enquiring about voluntary inspection and already works on behalf of training providers overseas on a consultancy basis.

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