Millions of pounds to fund training is unspent as Learning & Skills Council tries new tack

Electrical and mechanical trade bodies and training providers have joined forces to make it easier for m&e firms to access funds under the government’s Train to Gain initiative.

Led by BEST (Building Engineering Services Training), the group includes the HVCA, the ECA, SummitSkills and EAS (Electrical Assessment Services).

With funding supplied by the Learning & Skills Council (LSC), the group has been charged with encouraging high-volume growth for Train to Gain take-up, with BEST providing assessors for the scheme.

Mark Brenner, BEST chief executive officer, explained the aim of the scheme.

“Millions of pounds of Train to Gain money is yet to be spent. To date, employer demand has failed to meet expectations, and it is hoped that this new approach, giving ownership to respected industry bodies, will engender a more positive reaction to what is essentially free training.”

Employers can access the scheme anywhere in the country by contacting BEST which will carry out an initial assessment of eligibility and training needs. This involves benchmarking current performance and skills levels against the industry standards to identify realistic targets.

“Firms can be helped to identify opportunities for improving skills, competency and efficiency, resulting in a staff and culture that provide tangible commercial benefits to the business,” said Brenner.

Keith Marshall, SummitSkills chief executive officer, said: “This is absolutely vital for the industry. When you are talking about the existing workforce, Train to Gain is the primary funding mechanism.

“We have argued long and hard with the government to make it more flexible. One of our biggest issues is that people might have had a bad experience with Train to Gain in the past and now ignore it. I would say to employers, it is well worth looking at again.”