Train to gain

Statistics revealed today show that businesses in the engineering and manufacturing sector in the south east are still failing to take advantage of free training.

Train to Gain, launched one year ago and funded by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), aims to address skills shortages that continue in engineering in the south east by helping businesses improve their competitive edge. Advice is provided through an impartial broker service, which works with an employer, training provider and learner.

However, training in the engineering and manufacturing sector accounts for only eight per cent of all Train to Gain training taking place in the region, with industries such as health and care far ahead with a substantial 27 per cent. Training in the construction sector is also strong in the region with 24 per cent of staff development taken in this field.

The engineering sector is one of the largest employment sectors in the south east but is said to face significant skills shortages. Technological advances and low levels of staff entering the field have brought further skills challenges to many organisations. According to recent LSC research, approximately 22 per cent of all establishments within the sector are experiencing skills shortages.

In other industries, the success of Train to Gain has shown that many companies are using this scheme as an inexpensive form of staff development that could rewards such as increased productivity and customer service levels.

One company in the engineering sector which has already realised the benefits of Train to Gain is Opperman Mastergear. The Newbury-based family business has been operating for over 100 years and is now part of a £1.8m American corporation called Regal Beloit.

Technical sales and application engineer Keith Rush has taken a marketing course under Train to Gain. He said: ‘When I started the course I was sceptical as to whether it would be useful to me in my job. It took a few weeks before the theory actually made sense. To my great surprise, I have found the learning aspect of the course very easy to get on with and many of the marketing tools very useful. My approach to my work is now very different.’