Analysis from the Work Foundation and Totaljobs found that the scheme, which gives adults without qualifications free access to college courses, overlooks mid-career workers aged 25-49 because they already have one level three qualification.
Approximately 1.4 million of these people are in low-paid jobs in sectors hardest hit by coronavirus-related redundancies, such as hospitality, which would have benefited most from the scheme.
As well as those locked out through ineligibility, the report identified some 1.9 million people with children under the age of 16 who find it difficult to access training as a result of caring and family responsibilities.
This would mean they are unlikely to benefit from the LSG without increased flexibility in training provision and support with the indirect costs of participating, such as childcare.
“Understandably, many businesses have had to reduce their provision of training to employees as a result of the financial uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, our research clearly shows how much appetite there is for training and, as we emerge from COVID-19 and face new challenges with Brexit, lifelong learning has never been so high on the agenda,” Steve Warnham, jobs expert at Totaljobs told HR magazine.
In order to maximise the promise of the LSG, the Work Foundation and Totaljobs have advised the government to review eligibility criteria and offer financial support for the scheme to maximise the participation of workers on low pay.
They also called for a removal of restrictions that mean individuals receiving welfare benefits like Jobseekers Allowance, Income Support and Universal Credit cannot engage in training.
Flexible and modular approaches would be needed, they said, to ensure greater take up of training opportunities, and employers should be incentivised and advised to take part.
Warnham added: “Beyond this, employers should move to tie skills development into their wider business strategy, as an essential component of future-proofing the workforce. This can be achieved in part by increasing awareness and understanding of how employees can access government schemes by providing information and more practical advice, particularly for mid-career workers, before the scheme is launched next April.
“With 80% of 2030’s workforce already in employment in the UK, it’s important that businesses also use workplace coaches and mentors to champion skills development that focuses on future needs, not just existing roles.”