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Plugging the skills gap

In response to the article ("Qualified but with same old skills", TES, February 10), over the past four years employer training pilots (ETPs) have helped almost 230, 000 employees and 27, 000 employers.

Independent research from the Institute for Employment Studies has identified high levels of satisfaction among employers and learners alike and 96 per cent of participating employers said that providing employees with new skills, not just a qualification, was the greatest benefit of the programme.

Under the pilots there has been an important emphasis on assessment. This is in order to 'train to the gap'in an individual's skills needs rather than provide blanket learning that someone does not need. It is this tailoring of skills packages that has made ETP so popular and successful.

Amongst employers, many businesses cited improved customer service and better productivity as a direct benefit of ETP.

Reports confirm that results were not only measurable in terms of qualifications gained but also through demonstrable skills. ETP provided a gateway for many to skills for life training, apprenticeships and advanced apprenticeships. These are programmes of increasing quality that boost knowledge, confidence and skill.

When Train to Gain, the National Employment Training Programme is extended across the country this year it will heed the lessons from the many evaluations.

Public funds will focus on those who do not have the skills needed for work in an increasingly competitive economy.

Train to Gain will be a fundamental part of raising skills levels in businesses across England.

David Way

Director of Skills

Learning and Skills Council

Coventry

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