'Unloved training scheme failing to fulfil function'

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Indy Politics
MORE THAN two-thirds of people leaving the Government's pounds 450m Employment Training scheme fail to get jobs or qualifications, according to an analysis published yesterday.

But while the latest year's figures produced by the Unemployment Unit show the proportion finding work declining from 35 to 30 per cent, the percentage achieving qualifications has risen from 22 to 30 per cent.

Paul Convery, of the Unemployment Unit, says that ET is an 'underfunded and unloved' scheme. 'It was designed at the tail-end of the 1980s boom to get people into work by giving them worthwhile vocational qualifications. These latest figures show that it is doing neither.'

Mr Convery believes that renewed pressure on government spending could mean further reductions in the ET budget. 'Without further funding or a serious redesign, it will collapse. At the moment ET is a bogus promise made to thousands of unemployed people. And it is no wonder that over half leave their course early.'

The programme, administered by local Training and Enterprise Councils, is aimed at raising skill levels among the unemployed, but only half are on courses which lead to nationally recognised certificates, the charitably-funded unit has found.

Job entry rates vary from 55 per cent in North Yorkshire, where 28 per cent went into self- employment, to 16 per cent in the South Thames area, where the self-employed figure was just 5 per cent.

Only eight out of 80 TEC areas report any improvement in their job entry rate. The unit says that only three can show anything other than a marginal change: Cumbria, up from 33 per cent to 41 per cent; West Lancashire (34 to 43 per cent); and East Lancashire (33 to 37 per cent).

Figures for participants achieving qualifications varied from 25 per cent in London to 33 per cent in the rest of the South-east and the South-west. No TEC area can claim better than a 50 per cent rate for qualifications.

The unit believes that a higher achievement of vocational qualifications may not necessarily reflect improved quality in the scheme, but contraction in the size of the programme means that the best potential participants can be 'creamed off'. Recent figures show that 34 per cent of ET trainees are claimants out of work for less than six months. Such people are regarded as easier to train.