Hunt plans league table on vocational training: Employer-led groups are to face scrutiny. Barrie Clement reports

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THE GOVERNMENT will next week extend its policy of publishing educational league tables to cover its pounds 2bn vocational training programme.

David Hunt, Secretary of State for Employment, said he would be disclosing the relative performance of 82 employer-led Training and Enterprise Councils in England and Wales.

Mr Hunt told the TECs' annual conference in Birmingham yesterday that 'comparing performance was a very effective way of improving performance'.

He said he would publish TEC-by- TEC data on how they met their contracts with the department in the 1992-93 financial year.

TECs will be ranked in four categories to show whether they fulfil the guarantee of a Youth Training place for all jobless young people; to what degree they achieve National Vocational Qualification targets in their area; and the extent to which unemployed people find jobs after leaving the adult Employment Training scheme. They will also be rated on the number of organisations that have signed up to the Investors in People kitemark and the number of pupils staying on at school after 16.

As with figures for schools, critics within the TEC system have pointed out that some councils will do much worse because they cover areas of economic and social deprivation. They are concerned that the level of funding will be dictated by their position in the league table. Others said it will be extremely difficult to assess the degree to which they foster the spirit of enterprise. Nevertheless, Edward Roberts, leader of the national group representing TEC chairmen, welcomed the initiative. He was aware that some of the councils, which are responsible for delivering state schemes for the unemployed at the grassroots level, did not measure up.

But Mr Edwards did not want to see a system that was too rigid. Some TECs might not meet the YT guarantee, but did foster new businesses and partnerships. He conceded the problems of comparing TECs in different areas. It was important to continue developing the performance system to ensure its accuracy, he said: 'If the figures are wrong or misleading they can create all sorts of debates which could be damaging, not only to the Government, but to TECs and their communities.'

He accepted the need for caution in assessing the indicators. 'We know we need to work with TECs to improve the indicators so that they cover a wider range of TEC interests, especially the vital areas of enterprise and local economic regeneration,' he said.