Training and Enterprise Council leaders have hit back at college chiefs who condemned them for "wasting public money".
The TEC national council returned fire on the Association of Colleges this week, with a point-by-point rebuttal of the AoC's highly critical response to the government's consultation on the future of TECs.
The AoC had claimed TECs were absorbing a disproportionate share of education and training resources; were unable to demonstrate the quality of their provision; and presided over a high incidence of fraud.
A TEC council spokesman said this evaluation was regarded as "extraordinary, irresponsible, and almost entirely wrong". He said over the past seven years TECs had significantly improved the quality and performance of their training programmes, with significant reductions in drop-out rates and increases in the number of qualifications gained.
The latest performance figures, published this week, showed that 62 per cent of young people completing a TEC training programme gained a qualification - 25 per cent more than two years ago. More than half attained NVQ level 2, and nearly a third achieved NVQ level 3 or 4, deemed broadly equivalent to A level and undergraduate level.
"These are excellent results when put in the context of the fact that over 70 per cent of the young people entering the programme do so with no GCSEs at grades A to C, or no GCSEs at all." The TEC council claimed it had "enjoyed a good record in the handling of public funds", despite criticisms from the National Audit Office for fraud and mismanagement costing Pounds 14 million.