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One Million Employees Get Skills Boost With Train To Gain

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BIS Department for Business Innovation and Skills - Expert Author

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Issued on 04 March 2010

The number of people gaining a qualification through the Train to Gain programme has hit the one million mark, the Government announced today.

The millionth learner, Chris Scott, a process operator at chemical manufacturer William Blythe Ltd, in Accrington, completed his level 2 NVQ in Business Improvement Techniques on January 29 this year.

Chris’s work involves manufacturing chemicals and handling finished materials. He is one of 62 people at William Blythe Ltd to have completed a qualification through Train to Gain.

Skills Minister Kevin Brennan said:

“This is a great achievement for the programme and for each of the one million people who have now gained a qualification that will help them get on at work. With new skills they can further their own careers and make a significant impact on the business they work for.

“Train to Gain has been hugely effective and both learners and employers have seen the benefits. Chris’s hard work and determination is a great example of the results the programme can have and the rewards that are there for employers who invest in their workforce.”

Chris said:

“Learning new skills on the job and working on projects in teams has helped us to quickly make improvements to the way we work. We all feel pleased to have got this qualification and if it allows us to win new business then it will be a success all round.”

Tim Hughes, Managing Director, William Blythe Ltd, said:

“Training our workforce in this way has been a good business decision. All businesses are going to increasingly rely on the skills of their employees if they are to compete effectively in the future.

“This investment has provided the skills needed to improve problem solving, teamwork and continuous improvement across the business. I am proud of the achievement made by our employees.”

In a recent LSC survey of employers who use the training initiative, 80 per cent said they were likely to recommend Train to Gain to other employers and use it again themselves. A significant number of employers (41 per cent) also said Train to Gain had helped them cope with the recession.

Geoff Russell, LSC Chief Executive said:

“Congratulations to Chris Scott, the one millionth learner, and to his employer William Blythe Ltd. Train to Gain has made a real difference to employers and more than three-quarters of all businesses say using Train to Gain gave their workforce valuable job-related skills and resulted in increased performance.

“Businesses like William Blythe benefit from better motivated, more skilled and more committed staff. This leads to better services and products, which is crucial for long-term competitiveness.

“I’m delighted that employees like Chris are benefiting from gaining qualifications through Train to Gain. Businesses like William Blythe Ltd are not only accessing the benefits of Train to Gain to invest in the skills the economy needs now and in the future, but reaffirming their commitment to training their workforce by making their own investment in further training.”

More than 175,000 employers have now been engaged through Train to Gain brokerage services. In 2010-11, the Government plans to invest nearly £1 billion through Train to Gain, building on the £38 billion that employers are already investing in training each year.

Notes

Skills Minister Kevin Brennan will meet with Chris Hughes and Tim Hughes today at the Integrated Employment and Skills event at the QEII Conference Centre in Westminster. The minister’s speech from this event will be available on the BIS website. The LSC published two reports in February containing the results of employer and learner surveys of Train to Gain. These reports can be found here: www.lsc.gov.uk. Statistics on Train to Gain are published in the series Statistical First Release: Post 16 Education & Skills: Learner Participation and Outcomes. The latest copy can be found at: www.thedataservice.org.uk/statistics/sfrdec09.Figures published in December showed that there was a cumulative total of 960,000 Train to Gain achievements up until October 2009. The next edition of this Release will be published on the 25th March, and will include information on Train to Gain up to the end of January 2010. LSC research has recently identified the one millionth achiever in Train to Gain.Launched in 2006 and managed by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), Train to Gain is the Government’s flagship service to support employers in England, of all sizes, and in all sectors, to improve the skills of their employees, unlock talent and drive improved business performance. A key element of Train to Gain are Business Link Advisors who offer employers impartial advice and at no cost, helping them to find the best training solution from high-quality and responsive training.

6. Train to Gain is now part of the Solutions for Business portfolio - a streamlined suite of government-funded support products for businesses accessible via Business Link.

7. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills published Skills for Growth – the National Skills Strategy in November 2009, which sets out an ambitious vision for giving people and businesses the skills they need to help drive economic growth. The Government will create a modern class of technicians through a dramatic expansion of advanced apprenticeships, creating 35,000 new places over the next two years. For further information, see: http://www.bis.gov.uk/skillsforgrowth

8. For more information contact BIS press office on 020 7215 5951.

Case study:

Founded in 1845 William Blythe Ltd is a manufacturer of inorganic chemicals intended for use in a broad spectrum of industrial applications, including pharmaceutical, electronics, glass production, food stuffs and biocidal preparations. Based in Church, Accrington the company has 80 employees. William Blythe Ltd is part of Yule Catto, the leading chemicals group.

Challenges

Before the recession the company made some tough choices as manufacturing and the chemicals industry were facing ever increasing competition from suppliers across the globe. The business was built around lower margin commodity products but, with the customer base consolidating or moving east, the business was suffering. The company refocused on higher value, application knowledge based products which resulted in a reorganisation including a thorough assessment of the skills of the workforce. Management decided to improve the core competencies of the workforce to support their market ambitions. As a result of this strategy William Blythe Ltd is weathering the economic storm and developing the business as an increasingly specialised manufacturer and supplier into its markets worldwide.

Aims

The company wanted to create a common culture within the organisation for continuous improvement, which was a crucial element if it was to realise its ambition to refocus on higher value knowledge based products.

Process

William Blythe Ltd employed the services of the Process Industries Centre for Manufacturing Excellence Engineers. PICME is a DTI (now BIS) sponsored initiative using the 5C approach to improving manufacturing excellence. Through Sysco and Partnership for Learning the company was able to access the Train to Gain funding and support which made this reorganisation possible.

Benefits to the employer

The company has noticed a closer team spirit, improved flexibility and a more productive operation. The tools and techniques learnt are being used to improve standards across the business. Putting the majority of the workforce through Level 2 NVQ in Business Improvement Techniques (BIT) has given employees the ability to work as effective teams in problem solving and improvement activities. The immediate benefit has been seen in the speed and manner in which problems are handled.

Tim Hughes, Managing Director, William Blythe Ltd:

“Training our workforce in this way has been a good business decision. All businesses are going to increasingly rely on the skills of their employees if they are to compete effectively in the future. This investment has provided the skills needed to improve problem solving, teamwork and continuous improvement across the business. I am proud of the achievement made by our employees.”

Commitment to training

The company released people to undertake the training, and funded all of PICME's expenses. This represented about 200hrs/person away from their job. Out of 80 employees 64 undertook the BIT Level 2 NVQ. 62 successfully gained their qualification with two only missing out due to long term absence.

Roy Pickthall, Operations Director, William Blythe Ltd:

“We have recognised the value of continuous training and will be wholly funding 12 of those who gained their Level 2 NVQ to continue to Level 3. The focus will be on embedding the Level 2 learning in a series of improvement projects with a target of £500K impact on the business.”

Benefits to the learner

All the trainees have gained a qualification where many had no previous formal qualification. They have been offered the opportunity to have a greater impact on the business and generally feel more engaged in the future of the company. The training was offered across the company from cleaners to quality managers, including operators, technicians, engineers and lab staff. The company feels that this had widespread impact across the business, as well as a positive effect on the individuals involved.

Chris Scott, a process operator at William Blythe Ltd was the 1,000,000 th person to benefit from the Train to Gain programme. “Learning new skills on the job and working on projects in teams has helped to us to quickly make improvements to the way we work. We all feel pleased to have got this qualification and if it allows us to win new business then it will be a success all round.”

TIM HUGHES is the Managing Director of William Blythe Ltd. He has been MD for 12 months but has been in the chemical industry mainly in the UK for his whole career. He says Train to Gain is a good business decision and this is the second company in which he has used this training programme. A culture change was needed at William Blythe Ltd to allow them to focus on speciality products and that meant the skills level of the workforce had to improve. He sees this as a typical situation for UK manufacturing industry, and the UK chemical industry in particular, as new and often low-cost competitors appear from the emerging economies with access to global customers. This means there’s an increasing need for specialisation and to achieve that you need better skills and knowledge and a better trained workforce.

CHRIS SCOTT is an employee with William Blythe Ltd. He is 24, has been with the company since 2007 and has been in the chemical industry for 7 years. He is a process operator, a chemicals-based job which involves manufacturing chemicals and handling the finished materials. He has 9 GCSEs and passed his NVQ last year. Chris was able to complete his training following the temporary flexibilities added to the programme last year to help small businesses use Train to Gain during the recession.

For further information the case studies, please contact LSC press office on 02476 82 3515.

Department for Business, Innovation & Skills


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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2010-03-07 19:01:13 in Employee Articles

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