Chancellor to encourage IT training

Gordon Brown told Parliament yesterday that from next September a new scheme would be trialled encouraging employers to provide some basic level training to employees. ‘We will pilot a new approach combining direct financial support for business with time off for training,’ he said.

Welcoming the news, Skills and Education secretary Estelle Morris said: ‘The Pounds 40m pilots announced will extend new learning opportunities to adults.’

The announcement was also welcomed by business leaders. ‘We are pleased by indications that the government is preparing to introduce the training tax credit we campaigned for,” said Confederation of British Industry chief Digby Jones.

The CBI and the Trades Union Congress had lobbied the government jointly to provide incentives for training. After months of work they presented the government with their recommendations last week.

‘The British economy would benefit from having a workforce accredited with basic level training,” said Anne Lindsay, senior skills policy advisor at the CBI.

While Brown used his pre-Budget Report to address basic skills, he acknowledged that the impetus from his initiatives owed a lot to the work of government think-tank the Performance and Innovation Unit.

The unit recently produced its report for the provision of adult skills in the 21st century, which concluded that all adults should receive the training equivalent of getting five GCSEs at grade C.

The Pounds 40m will be concentrated on providing these basic skills, but IT skills will form an essential part, the PIU concluded. ‘Numeracy, literacy and other key skills such as communication and IT contribute generally to economic performance,’ it said.

Training initiatives such as the European Computer Driving Licence would qualify for the tax breaks under Brown’s proposals.

Last week, the European Commission called for all members to introduce tax breaks to encourage training throughout Europe.

Links’s Pre-Budget report

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