Nearly three-quarters of unemployed adults on the Government's Training For Work programme were still out of work three months after completing the course, according to Training and Enterprise performance indicators released last week.
But the Department for Education and Employment still announced "an overall improvement" in the showing of the majority of TECs in England and Wales.
Across the country, only .1 per cent of TFW adults - some 77,000 - found a job. But this average figure conceals wide regional variations. The top TEC, East Lancashire, boasted a 53 per cent success rate. By contrast the bottom TEC, Bedfordshire, found jobs for just 15 per cent of the TFW adults.
The figures for any sort of positive outcome - a job, self-employment, or further education or training of more than 21 hours per week - are not much higher. The average is 29.6 per cent, again with regional variations, with North London TEC offering nearly 56 per cent of TFW adults a positive outcome and Bedfordshire TEC - in spite of making a 10 per cent improvement on 1993-1994 figures - at only 15 per cent.
The TEC indicators also reveal that only four out of ten adults completed the TFW programme with a national vocational qualification: the national average of 43.1 per cent is nevertheless a 19 per cent improvement on last year. Yet while 77 per cent achieved an NVQ with Cambridgeshire TEC, just 21 per cent achieved a qualification with Powys TEC. Not much better are the figures for the Youth Training scheme, with just 46 per cent achieving an NVQ.
The DFEE said there is something to celebrate in the overall "positive outcome" success rate of the TFW programme, which has improved by 34 per cent from 1993-1994. Certainly some individual TECs have made extraordinarily good progress.
Essex TEC, which languished at the bottom of the "positive outcome" league table last year, has shot into the top ten, making an exceptional 229 per cent improvement with nearly four out of ten adults finding a job after following a programme.
And the cost of the TFW programme has fallen from Pounds 1443 to Pounds 966 per output point.
*Sir Garry Johnson has become chairman of the TEC National Council. He is a former general and chairman of the International Defence Advisory Board to the Baltic States.