Train to Gain was designed to deliver vocational training to employed individuals in the UK, primarily those in the 25+ age band who did not already have a Full Level 2 Qualification, via the Skills Funding Agency, formerly the Learning and Skills Council (LSC). The initiative was rolled out nationally in September 2006. Train to Gain formed a part of the Employer Responsive training model. On 24 May 2010 the UK government announced a £200 million reduction in this programme as part of its planned £6.2 billion reduction in expenditure in the 2010-11 government financial year. The Train to Gain brand was scrapped in July 2010.
Train to Gain was designed to ameliorate the skills deficiency in the UK identified by the Leitch review. The purported idea of the service is to offer skills advice and match business needs with Further Education and training providers. The service will also identify any funding or grants that can be used to offset the investment in training. The support and advice offered by Train to Gain is claimed to be flexible, responsive and offered at a time and place to suit businesses.
The supposed appeal to employers is that they receive targeted, quality approved training to upskill their staff in line with their individual and business related needs. The appeal to employees is allegedly that they are invested in, given training to help them in their role and the opportunity to certify their existing skills. In addition to this there is funding available to improve their overall skills and levels of literacy and numeracy. A NAO report published in July 2009 queried whether the tax payer was receiving good value for money from this programme.
Train to Gain is designed to maximise on the effectiveness of the Skills Brokerage — Skills Brokers liaise with employers to identify their skill needs and then provide a matching service with appropriate training providers. Thus Train to Gain can also reference the entirety of employer training and liaison.
The fundamental criteria for eligibility for Train to Gain core funding are:
Learners in the 19–25 age band are eligible for funding through Train to Gain where an apprenticeship would not be considered appropriate, for example where the learner is on a temporary contract. Apprenticeships are the UK government's preferred route for vocational training in this age group. Learners below the age of 19 cannot be funded through Train to Gain.
Qualifications that are eligible for funding via Train to Gain are identified as such in the LSC's Learning Aims Database (LAD). These are primarily NVQs at level 2 or level 3 alongside Skills for Life at levels 1 & 2.
During the course of the 07/08 contract year the LSC released several additional "flexibilities" applying to learner eligibility. These allowed volunteers to access the Train to Gain service, as well as self-employed learners. A further flexibility allows exemption from the criteria concerning prior attainment (i.e. no full level 2), for learners coming through the local employment partnership (LEP) route. That is to say, those learners who find work through Jobcentre Plus and subsequently come on to Train to Gain.
The LSC has outlined further enhancements to the Train to Gain service in a recent letter[permanent dead link] to training providers. These include additional level 2s and level 3s for those who already have them (under specific circumstances), accessibility to Skills for life for those ineligible due to prior attainment and funding for Skills for life at levels other than 1 and 2.