Improve lobby to save training funds

A CAMPAIGN to spare the axe on £24 million of government funding for employee training has been launched by Improve, the food and drink sector skills council.

Improve is objecting to the Learning and Skills Council's (LSC) proposal to cut money from its budgets in 2006-07 by no longer paying for training in food hygiene, health and safety, and first aid, where the cash is used to help employers meet their statutory responsibilities.

In a draft policy statement, which is out for consultation, the LSC says the plan is part of the rebalancing of public funds to meet the government's key priorities for adult learning.

Jon Gamble, Director of Adult Learning at the LSC, said: "It is the role of the LSC to prioritise spending on key targets in order to ensure that public funds achieve best value for the tax payer. Employers and employees must recognise that the public purse is finite, we are not able to fund all provision, and the Government has encouraged employers to make a greater contribution to the skills development of their employees. This is only right as they are the ones who will benefit."

The proposal has been condemned by Jack Matthews, chief executive of Improve. "At a time when we are working so hard to ensure that employers get a better deal for every training pound they spend, the last thing we need is the LSC pulling the rug from under employers' feet as regards the most fundamental and essential training of all."