Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted)
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Train to Gain brings benefits – but more employers need to be involved

A new report by Ofsted concludes that the Train to Gain programme is successful in giving employees the opportunity to gain nationally recognised qualifications and improving their motivation in the workplace. However, inspections reveal that employers have been slow to take advantage of funding, while some employees aren’t always getting the skills development they need.

The report, The impact of Train to Gain on skills in employment, published today by the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted), evaluates training given to more than 13,000 employees. Inspectors found that participants made gains in their knowledge and self-confidence at work and many employers reported improvements in work practice and staff retention.

Some employers found that they were more successful in competitive tendering as a result of Train to Gain, with the benefit of a fully qualified, skilled workforce giving clients more confidence to invest in their business. Others increased their profitability, such as one business in the hospitality industry, where kitchen staff had improved their skills, resulting in less wastage of food during preparation and cooking.

Despite this, and the fact that most employers were very pleased with the training and assessment their staff received through the programme, it has not resulted in an increased employer demand for training.

Christine Gilbert, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, said:

“It’s encouraging that Train to Gain is addressing the skills shortage, while also helping employers respond to increasing national and international competition. For many employees, this is the first opportunity they have had to gain a qualification since leaving school.

“However, there is scope for further development of the programme to ensure it meets some key challenges. Not enough employers are approaching providers to receive training, while some employees aren’t benefiting from the practical, higher level vocational skills, or skills for life such as numeracy and literacy, that are crucial for their career development.”

The report finds most employers were recruited to the programme as a result of providers successfully promoting and selling programmes to them, suggesting provision is supply driven, rather than demand-led. Inspections reveal the brokerage service is having minimal impact in engaging the ‘harder to reach’ employers, those with little recent involvement in training.

Importantly, the report also highlights that employees with literacy and numeracy needs rarely received sufficient training or encouragement to improve their skills. Many private training providers do not have the resources or specialist staff to offer this training and many employers are reluctant to broach a lack of literacy and numeracy skills with their staff.

In some cases, particularly in areas such as care and construction, employers see the programme as a way of “badging” employees to meet legislative or health and safety requirements, rather than furthering skills they already have. The survey also found that the more experienced employees are not always gaining new technical and practical skills unless they are able to progress to work and qualifications at level 3.


The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) should revisit the policy and framework design, and the planned outcomes for the programme, to enable providers to offer programmes leading to higher level technical skills, knowledge and understanding. DIUS should also explore other mechanisms for providing incentives to employers to drive employer demand for training.

DIUS and funding agencies should develop and implement strategies for increasing the number of people who are trained and competent to develop skills for life in adults. They should also review the work of brokerage service and its targets for learner recruitment.

The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) should establish with other partner organisations, an agreed method of calculating Train to Gain success rates.

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Notes for Editors

  1. The report The impact of Train to Gain on skills in employment can be found on the Ofsted website,
  2. Between September 2007 and April 2008 a team of five Her Majesty’s Inspectors and three additional Inspectors visited 48 providers, 74 employers and analysed inspection reports for 97 providers of Train to Gain.
  3. Programmes funded by Train to Gain are available for adults who do not hold level 2 qualifications or who have literacy or numeracy skills needs. Public funding is available to provide training and assessment leading to qualifications in the workplace, particularly at level 2 and in skills for life.
  4. The Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) regulates and inspects registered childcare and children's social care, including adoption and fostering agencies, residential schools, family centres and homes for children. It also inspects all state maintained schools, non-association independent schools, pupil referral units, further education, initial teacher education, and publicly funded adult skills and employment-based training, the Children and Family Courts Advisory Service (Cafcass), and the overall level of services for children in local authority areas (through annual performance assessments and joint area reviews).
  5. The Ofsted Press Office can be contacted on 08456 4040404 between 8am – 6pm Monday – Friday. During evenings and weekends we can be reached on 07919 057359.

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