Train To Gain, the Government's flagship skills service to employers, has seen B&Q become the 100,000th company to join the scheme.
Now celebrating its second anniversary, Train To Gain, which is run by the Learning and Skills Council, offers support to firms of all sizes and in all sectors, to improve the skills of their employees, unlock talent and drive improved business performance.
Since its launch in 2006, the scheme has helped over 570,000 employees in England get training, and over 291,000 learners have achieved a qualification. Nearly eight out of ten employers say that they would recommend Train to Gain to other employers.
The West Midlands is the best-achieving region on Train to Gain overall - more than 78,000 employees have received training with more than 33,000 having achieved a qualification.
Drivers at Solihull taxi firm Crown Cars were among the first in the country to study for their NVQ in Road Passenger Vehicle Driving, funded through the LSC and delivered by Solihull College.
Former police and West Midlands Ambulance drivers were drafted in by the college to help drivers improve their competence and enhance their customer service skills.
And Habib Hussain, manager of Crown Cars in Warwick Road, Olton, said: “The training is proving really useful as we pride ourselves in setting the standard for excellence in private hire. We are putting 20 of our 80 drivers through the initial course and it can only help us to maintain our competitive edge.”
Trainee Majid Hussain said: “I’m expecting to complete the training within six months and am finding it very useful. Already, I’ve improved my knowledge of health and safety and learned a lot about customer service.
“The training is not costing me anything to do and can be fitted easily around my shifts.”
Funding for Train to Gain will increase from £520 million in 2007-08 to over £1 billion by 2010-11.
Lord Young, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, said: “Successful employers see up-skilling the workforce as one of the most powerful things they can do to drive their businesses forward.
"Employers who have invested in the skills of their people in the past will be better placed to respond to the economic challenges, and they will also be better placed to take advantage of the opportunities in the next period of growth.
Frances O’Grady, TUC Deputy General Secretary said: “Where employers and unions work together Train to Gain produces great results both for employers and workers. Union Learning Reps know that access to learning changes lives and are keen for their employers to sign up to Train to Gain”.
Employers wanting more information on Train to Gain can either call 08000 754557 or visit www.traintogain.gov.uk.