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Firms to pay more for work training

Spending on work-based training is to increase by 6.6 per cent - but employers will also be expected to make a bigger contribution.

The budget will rise from pound;1.037 billion to pound;1.105bn in September.

The Learning and Skills Council says much of the extra money will be spent on apprenticeships - including an extra 3,000 places for the Government's flagship training scheme. While the LSC is committed to meeting demand for 16-19 placements, it says employers will be expected to put more cash into post-19 apprenticeships, where its own contribution is expected to be cut by 6 per cent.

The LSC says it will work with employers to improve the performance of apprentices in industries struggling to complete the full "framework" - including NVQs, a technical certificate and key skills, including numeracy and literacy.

Stephen Gardner, director of work-based learning at the LSC, said: "We need to ensure all the sectors are supported to improve framework completion.

"We will be providing assistance to health care, early-years care, construction and hospitality to see how we can help them increase the number of apprentices completing the framework.

"We will look at the whole picture, including whether the frameworks themselves are suitable."

British Telecom's submissions to the quango show that the company regards the work of those who complete apprenticeships as better than many of their non-apprenticed adult counterparts.

It also says the scheme increased its profits - although it stresses part of the reason for this is the government subsidy.

Four out of 12 BT engineering managers began as apprentices.

A spokesman for the Association of Learning Providers, whose members provide work-based training, said: "We recognise the reality of the current funding situation, and work-based learning can't be immune from that. But it's very late in the day to be asking employers to make a greater contribution when the new academic year is about to start."

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