On course to greater skills

Employees are keen to be given training so they are more mobile, can take on more responsibilities and demand higher wages.

Speaking recently, education and employment secretary David Blunkett said: ‘Jobseekers are increasingly sophisticated. A recent survey found two-thirds of employees said they would sacrifice salary for training; choosing a job paying 5% less than another if the employer provided formal training opportunities.

‘Jobseekers won’t even consider employers, either big or small, who do not offer training. Often it is the small firms that do not have the personnel departments,’ he added.

And with high levels of staff turnover it’s understandable that some employers are reluctant to fork out for courses. Through the individual learning account scheme the government hopes to provide support to employers of all sizes and encourage training.

Individual learning accounts were first unveiled in 1998 as a key part of the government’s lifelong learning agenda. And since then their popularity has soared since with the one-millionth person signing up last month.

Undoubtedly it is the incentives offered by the government that have fuelled the public’s interest.

To kick start the programme, the Department for Education and Employment offered £150 contributions towards just about any course for those willing to put in £25 of their own money.

But this generosity has a limit. The DfEE reckons that there are approximately 400,000 contributions left to be made and that by August or September the final payouts will have been made.

As you might expect, by far the most popular training so far has been in computing. Courses in basic Microsoft Office products such as Word and Excel are widespread and for some training in HTML and using the internet has opened the door to job positions on the web. But there are other courses which people might not immediately think of.

Nigel Linacre, a director at internet company World of Training, says: ‘You can choose from thousands of courses in all kinds of personal development, communication, management and accountancy skills, as well as IT skills – which, of course, are among the most popular.’

In fact Linacre is so keen on the scheme, he’s created a range of courses to suit the ILAs. ‘We’ve put together a training packages which work within the £150 budget so there is no additional expense beyond the £25 contribution.’

– has set up an easy way for you to access the £150 contribution you are entitled to and a range of courses. And not only has Accountancy Age arranged to include the £150 contribution to those signing up, but World of Training will refund the £25 normally required too.

Go to the World of Training area of by clicking here.

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