Up to 22 million workers in England may be able to use a new legal right to request time to train following a government consultation published today.
John Denham, secretary of state for innovation, universities and skills outlined his proposals in the document which includes details of how the new right will be implemented to help enable 300,000 people a year to receive skills training who otherwise would not.
Currently one third of employers do not train their staff and eight million employees receive no kind of training at all. Ministers believe a legal right to request time to train will help ensure that training is taken seriously by all employers. If the legislation is successfully passed through parliament, it could be in place by 2010.
"Over the past 10 years, the government has built a strong and stable economy but today we face international challenges affecting the economy as a whole and the lives of millions of people," said Denham.
"Investment by government and employers in education and training has played a large part in building economic success in recent years. Investment in skills is key to ensuring we come through with a stronger economy and making sure individuals can make the most of their abilities."
He added that employers still need to take responsibility for their employees' training and warned that those who do not train run 'real risks' with their businesses.
"We need to find new ways to bring the drive for skills into every workplace and to every worker which is why we are consulting on a new right for workers to request time to train," he said.
Spending by employers on training is rising and is estimated to be around £38.6 billion a year. Under the new plans, the government plans to spend over £3bn on skills and training over the next year, most of which will be implemented through the Train to Gain initiative.
The new entitlement will apply to all employees who have worked for their employer for 26 weeks and requests should be treated in a similar way to those for flexible working.