Budget cuts will increase the divide in access to training at work

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date: Thursday 16 September 2010

embargo: For immediate release

Unskilled workers will bear the brunt of cuts to the skills budget and any watering down of the new right to request time off to train, the TUC warns today (Thursday) in its submission to the Government's Skills for Sustainable Growth consultation.

The TUC submission includes an analysis of official figures which shows that only one in ten unskilled workers receive regular training at work, compared to four in ten graduate employees, and a total of over ten million workers receive no training at all from their employer.

The submission warns that with the private sector showing little appetite for increasing investment in workplace training, a combination of reduced Government training subsidies and the potential watering down of the new right to request time off for training will increase the divide in access to training by making lifelong learning increasingly unaffordable for low-paid unqualified workers.

Any shortfall in Government spending must be compensated for by a strategy to increase business investment in skills, including the extension of the kind of 'Licence to Practice' schemes linked to skills standards that are prevalent in the United States, says the TUC.

The submission cites recent research by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills showing that the UK is falling behind its competitors in terms of workforce skills. Further cuts will send out a powerful message that the UK is not taking the future competitiveness of its workforce seriously, says the TUC.

The submission welcomes the Government's commitment to increasing the number of apprenticeships, the recognition that lifelong learning is vital to supporting the economic recovery and the understanding that the union network of over 25,000 learning reps can play a vital role in delivering skills in the workplace.

It is disappointing therefore that much of the Government's well-intentioned ambition in its skills strategy will be undermined by short-sighted and damaging cuts to its budget, says the TUC.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'Spending cuts to training will hit the most vulnerable and damage prospects of a viable economic recovery.

'Lifelong learning is important for everyone, not just highly qualified workers, and yet there is a huge divide between the amount spent on training well qualified staff and the ten million workers who receive no training at work. Cuts to the skills budget will only increase this divide.

'Despite our concerns about the Government's skills strategy, unions will always do their best to get more workers training at work. Our army of 25,000 learning reps can play an important role in delivering the skills that so many workers need.'

NOTES TO EDITORS:

- The TUC submission to the Government's Skills for Sustainable Growth consultation is available to download at www.tuc.org.uk/extras/sustainablegrowthsubmission.pdf

- The UK Commission for Employment and Skills report Ambition 2020 is available at www.ukces.org.uk/server.php?show=nav.477

- All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk

- Register for the TUC's press extranet: a service exclusive to journalists wanting to access pre-embargo releases and reports from the TUC. Visit www.tuc.org.uk/pressextranet

Contacts:

Media enquiries:
Liz Chinchen T: 020 7467 1248 M: 07778 158175 E: media@tuc.org.uk
Rob Holdsworth T: 020 7467 1372 M: 07717 531150 E: rholdsworth@tuc.org.uk
Elly Gibson T: 020 7467 1337 M: 07900 910624 E: egibson@tuc.org.uk

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