IT training companies have strongly criticised the decision to scrap Individual Learning Accounts (ILA), claiming the action has left more than a million grant holders unable to use their training grants.
The withdrawal of ILA also means that for the first time in nine years individuals have no access to government funding for training courses. ILAs replaced Vocational Training Relief introduced by the Conservative government in 1992.
The Department for Education and Skills (DFES) last Friday terminated the Individual Learning Accounts grant scheme, two weeks ahead of schedule, following further allegations of fraud and abuse.
James O'Brien, founder member of the Association of Computer Trainers (ACT) and managing director of Pitman Training, said the government had created uncertainty for would-be learners and the legitimate training providers.
"The current action aimed at curtailing the alleged malpractice of a few 'rogue traders' has left many people who were planning training unsure of what the future holds," he said.
Details of a replacement scheme have yet to be announced by the DFES, but O'Brien said quality controls would be essential to prevent any future abuse.
He said any replacement programme should include subsidies for IT practitioner courses not elible for the ILA scheme. "Why shouldn't they benefit from some assistance? We'd like to see the cap raised to around £500, but targeted at skills that are need by industry and where there are shortfalls."
Despite the decision, some training companies are continuing to offer discounts to learners. iLearn.To has said it will continue to honour the provision of training with the £200 Individual Learning Account (ILA) training grant until the end of the year.
iLearn.To offers more than 850 interactive courses from content providers including BBC for Business and Harvard Business School, and IT courses and certification programmes covering Java, XML, Oracle, CISCO CCDA, Microsoft Windows XP, MCSE and Novell CNE.
Colin Steed, chief executive of the Institute of IT Training, said hundreds of small training companies would suffer as a result of the decision.
"It will put a lot of these companies out of business, although those offering professional training courses will be less affected," he said.
Cotton seedling freezes to death as Chang'e-4 shuts down for the Moon's 14-day lunar night
Fortnite easily out-earns PUBG, Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Red Dead Redemption 2 in 2018
Meteor showers as a service will be visible for about 100 kilometres in all directions
Saturn's rings only formed in the past 100 million years, suggests analysis of Cassini space probe data
New findings contradict conventional belief that Saturn's rings were formed along with the planet about 4.5 billion years ago