THE CITY'S U-turn came just after the Budget announced new measures to boost adult training and employment.
The latest new deal concentrates on financial incentives for older people to take up jobs, but also included pound;750 grants for unemployed adults aged over 50 to retrain for work.
Nearly 30 per cent of men over 50 are estimated to be outside the labour force, almost twice as many as 20 years ago. In future, those who have been unemployed for six months or more will be guaranteed a minimum income of pound;9,000 a year for their first year back in full-time work.
The Budget also set out "discounts for learning". All adults will receive a 20 per cent reduction in the costs of their learning, paid into individual learning accounts which take off this year.
These savings funds involve contributions from the individual, employer and Government. Anybody who invests pound;25 towards the costs of their training will receive a pound;150 top-up from the Government. The Budget also promised legislation so that employers' contributions will be tax free.
Adults who sign up to improve their basic education, particularly in computer literacy, will receive an 80 per cent discount on course fees.