Training for the dole queue

September 29, 1995

Your article "The training scheme jobless" (THES, September 22) reported that three-quarters of unemployed adults who joined Training for Work schemes were unemployed after they finished the scheme. This was a rather kind interpretation of the figures, as Training and Enterprise Council contracts define a "successful outcome" as someone obtaining just two weeks work of more than 15 hours, in any job, in the 13 weeks after a course is completed.

This is likely to flatter the figures, given that the pattern of unskilled unemployment is often to alternate short term and temporary work with long periods of inactivity (and given that providers get money for declaring such successful outcomes).

The reduced cost of outputs you report was no surprise either. TECs have to force down the price in order to meet their budget cuts, and to find some funds for business support activity.

It could be different. The merger of the Department of Education and Employment offers the opportunity of delivering the two things that are really needed. First, a single system of vocational education and training, rather than the FEFC/TEC division, with one system of funding, student support, quality assurance, marketing and planning.

Second, approaches that link training with what really are positive outcomes higher education or apprenticeships for the young, and job creation for the adult unemployed. Training by itself will simply leave us with a better qualified dole queue.

Adrian Perry Principal Lambeth College, London SW4

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