A NEW training programme designed to match education to business needs has been launched in Hampshire.

The free service sees a skills broker assigned to a company, who works out its training requirements and then finds a nearby course.

A spokesman said: "This broker will act just like a personal trainer, assessing a business's skills needs, drawing up a fitness plan and putting businesses in touch with local skills providers that can help get businesses in shape for the future and sharpen their competitive edge."

Called Train to Gain and funded by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) it aims to engage with 16,000 employers and 54,000 learners in the south-east by August 2008.

Much of the training qualifies for a government subsidy, including basic reading, writing and maths.

Judy Lewis, skills broker in the Hampshire region, said: "These days in a competitive business market it is the survival of the fittest.

"Skills brokers can help you by kick-starting your fitness campaign so that your people are skilled and ready to meet the challenges ahead."

Contact Train to Gain on 0845 751 2288, e-mail info@traintogainse.co. uk or visit www.traintogain.gov.uk.