Labour is planning a two-pronged strategy to improve the quality of training and learning at work.
A leaked draft of their training document, which will be released "in the near future" shows the party planning a system combining "individual learning accounts" (ILAs) for individuals and incentives to become an "Investor in People" (IiP) for companies.
Labour says this will be an important first step towards creating "a learning culture under which everyone will enjoy a lifetime entitlement to learing. It represents a fundamental shift in attitude and reflects Labour's vision of an opportunity society and stakeholder economy."
The ILAs would be set up through the National Insurance system and funded by contributions from Government and the individual. They could be spent on any training or learning programme recognised by the appropriate authority. Funds in them would receive tax relief and withdrawals could be made at any time, although money not spent on training would lose tax relief. Employers making contributions would also receive tax relief.
Labour says that IiP, a voluntary system of organisational development, can be developed into a national standard for most firms. At present it is accepted by companies who employ 23 per cent of the workforce, but has made poor progress among small employers.
A Labour government would support IiP by running an information campaign, reducing costs to small companies and using it as part of the framework to encourage the best use of ILAs.
These initiatives would be backed by Labour's University for Industry, the brainchild of shadow chancellor Gordon Brown. This plans to "provide a new framework of access to training and development through the use of on-line technology".
* Labour this week released its plans for a reformed 14-19 curriculum framework, reported last week in The THES.