Use or lose training funding, trade warned4 February 2012
Training provider Didac has issued an urgent message to the timber industry – it must use a new tranche of government money for training, or risk losing more in the future.
The company gave its warning just weeks after the timber industry sector skills council (SSC) Proskills, which is developing new NVQ level qualifications for the sector, failed in its bid for more government funding. One reason was thought to be the lack of training support, in terms of match-funding, forthcoming from the various industries it works with.
Bristol-based Didac has now secured £250,000 from the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) to deliver NVQ apprenticeship programmes in the woodworking, distribution and merchanting sectors, covering team leading, warehousing, customer service, business administration and management.
“This support is exactly what the industry has been asking for,” said commercial director Martin James. “But we need to stress that the industry must start signing up learners to the training now. This money needs to be spent in full by July 31. If it is not, then the next time we apply for funding, the SFA could take that into account and decide to put money into sectors where there is a better training take-up.”
He said that the latest funding could mean some timber companies not having to pay at all for putting their employees through the courses, other than an admin charge of £50-150 per person.
On the news that ProsKills had failed in its funding bid, Mr James said Didac had been “extremely disappointed”, having worked closely with the organisation since it became timber SSC in 2010.
“Proskills is developing the new qualifications the industry needs, and once that is done, training providers such as ourselves can pull down more government funding to deliver training to those qualifcations,” he said. “Since they came on board, we’ve already made a great leap forward.”
Proskills is now formulating a new “operating model” and Mr James said he was hopeful it could continue to work with the industry.
“The key is to establish the exciting new qualifications Proskills and the industry have been working hard to develop, and for them to be taken up by companies,” he said. “Otherwise the industry will struggle to get the training funding it needs.”