Train to Gain director faces uncertain future

26th November 2010 at 00:00

The future of the civil servant who spearheaded the Train to Gain scheme is in doubt, following a reshuffle at the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS).

Stephen Marston's role as director general for universities and skills has been abolished. The post, and two others, have been combined into one new position, director general for knowledge and innovation.

This role has been handed to Adrian Smith, previously in charge of science and research, another post that has been scrapped in the shake-up.

It is not yet clear whether Mr Marston will be offered an alternative position, and no timetable has been set for the changes to take effect.

In the comprehensive spending review, it was announced that Train to Gain, the workplace training programme, would be dropped. In the skills investment strategy published last week, it was revealed that only #163;100 million of the scheme's billion-pound budget would remain for a new work-based training scheme for small businesses.

Mr Marston had held his post since June 2007. He was previously director general for lifelong learning and skills in the former Department for Education and Skills.

Announcing the BIS restructure, permanent secretary Martin Donnelly said the appointments "complete the department's top level structure and enable us to push forward with our major internal change programme".

Alan Tuckett, director of the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (Niace), said: "Stephen has been a major force in shaping the policy agenda since 2003 and was the architect of a series of skills strategies, not least Train to Gain, but the agenda has moved in another direction, and he has become much less visible.

"He was an extremely bright bloke, and had a clear sense of direction. Train to Gain reached more adults in the workplace. (But) there was a lot of dead weight ... which is why the Government decided to end it."

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