A report by the public accounts committee found a broker's "engagement" with an employer, which may not result in any training, costs nearly as much as training a student for a qualification; the unit cost of engagement is pound;810, while the unit cost of training is pound;970.
The report said: "Skills brokers have provided useful business advice to employers but recruited fewer learners than expected. Now that demand for training is high and the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) has had to scale back activity, the department should reduce the size and scope of the brokerage service or refocus its activities."
The LSC has defended brokers because they focus on hard to reach employers, which make up three-quarters of their work, and because more than a quarter of the engagements result in a referral to non-Train to Gain programmes.
But despite the high level of demand, brokers have missed their target to recruit 30 per cent of Train to Gain learners, only finding one in five of them. The committee also criticised the management of the programme, which saw it lurch from two years of underspend to an overspend last year that prompted recruitment to be put on hold.
Success rates are too low in many providers, with the worst as low as 8 per cent, while 50 per cent of employers say they would have paid for the training they received free, suggesting considerable waste in the pound;900 million a year budget.
It also pointed out that few employers have seen significant benefits to productivity, profitability or the quality of their product as a result of the training.