The government’s decision to withdraw funding for equivalent and lower qualifications (ELQ) is expected to have implications on workers’ training and development.

With universities being forced to cut public programmes on the back of the money saving initiative, workplace training could become increasingly important for ensuring valuable employee skill sets.

Alan Tuckett, chief executive at the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education, questioned the move, saying: "The ELQ decision hits anyone needing to change direction in mid-career, if that change involves re-skilling.

"What all this points to is the need for a coherent policy for lifelong learning that takes account of the different learning needs and aspirations of adults across the lifespan."

In October 2008, Skills Secretary John Denham announced that the government will direct £350 million of funding into helping small businesses and companies in the private sector train their staff as part of its Train to Gain programme.