Employers trumped by sector on training

14th May 2010 at 01:00
Private industry's investment in training is many billions of pounds smaller than claimed and dwarfed by public sector spending, new research has revealed

A study by the Inquiry into the Future of Lifelong Learning calculated total employer expenditure at pound;16.2 billion, far lower than the pound;39 billion reported. It excludes the cost of employees' time for training, which accounts for the difference.

Total government spending, including the funding of FE, training public sector employees and pound;3.7 billion of employer tax relief, comes to pound;25.5 billion, in excess of 50 per cent more than the private sector.

The figures also suggest that the public sector invests in training at almost twice the rate of private industry, accounting for nearly 40 per cent of expenditure on skills by employers, while only being responsible for 22 per cent of workers.

Individuals should receive tax relief for training along with businesses, the inquiry recommends, suggesting that older people or those in low-skill jobs could be targeted in particular. And it says that the tax relief for businesses should be tied to educational targets on participation and qualifications.

Susan Anderson, director of education and skills at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said that it was only right for employers to count the time spent training off the job. And she rejected suggestions that business contributed too small a portion of Britain's training investment.

"Employers spend as much as they need to spend for their specific needs," she said. "What's important isn't how much is spent, but the outcome, which is a skilled workforce."

The CBI would not support extending tax relief for training in the current fiscal circumstances, Ms Anderson said, nor introducing targets for businesses that currently benefit.

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