Examination of Witnesses (Questions 80-99)|
2 MARCH 2005
Q80 Mr Jenkins: If that is the case,
we do claw it back, Chairman, I just want the figure please. How
much have we clawed back?
Mr Haire: This year, for example,
£34,000 has been clawed back. I will send you a note with
the overall figure on clawback.
Chairman: You are sending us a lot of
notes, so I hope your Department is keeping a track of them all.
Mr Jenkins: I have been there; I have
done it; I have seen awful training schemes, I have seen good
training schemes, and you have to have a rigorous inspection regime
for these people. I have no doubt by reading this Report that
that rigorous inspection regime is not there in your Department.
Q81 Chairman: No answer?
Mr Haire: I believe that we have
very strong inspectorate levels on quality, finance and other
Q82 Mr Williams: I have to say that I
have seen bad reports, pathetic reports and abysmal reports, but
my vocabulary runs out on this one. I have never seen anything
like it and I have been on this Committee since late 1989, early
1990. I have never seen such a poor Report as this. The taxpayer
has been absolutely ripped off. The Department has sat back and
let it happen. We can understand if it happened in the short term
but it has happened long term. How on earth do you justify the
role of your Department?
Mr Haire: I believe in my reading
of this Report, which is why I indicated that there are areas
of weakness that we need to address. It also emphasised that it
felt we had achieved much of the value for money and pointed out
where we were doing that. It pointed to areas where we needed
to improve on quality and, as I have emphasised, we are working
across all those areas to achieve quality of training for young
Q83 Mr Williams: When you look at the
range of shortcomings what assessments do you make of the training
organisations before you let them participate? It does not look
as if you make any assessment at all. Has something been set up
specially for this?
Mr Haire: When we let the contract,
and the contract is let every three years, that gives us an opportunity
to inspect them to make sure that they have the right systems.
Our inspectorate goes in every four years to inspect these organisations
and give us detailed reports. As I indicated, they are saying
now that 75% of this provision is good or better. They are indicating
areas where they want improvement in the other quarter of these
organisations. We also are working with these organisations with
a quality improvement system, training them and helping them develop.
We are bringing in the LSDA to help bolster those organisations.
Q84 Mr Williams: You may be working with
them but you are not doing much, are you? If you look at page
29, "Weaknesses Reported in ETI Reports", these are
recurrent weaknesses, not just occasional weaknesses: "Deficiencies
in the quality of directed training within TOs", 88%, 23
out of 26 reports. That is pretty staggering. Look at the next
one: "Poor development and ineffective incorporation of Key
Skills within training", 88%, 23 out of 26 inspections, and
so on: "Variable retention and success rates, 62%, "Poor
quality of work-placements", 58%, 15 out of 26 inspections.
Inspections come up time and time again showing that the department
is being taken for a ride and you have done virtually nothing
about it. The British taxpayer is paying for this.
Mr Haire: I am very conscious
of that. In those areas we absolutely recognise that those are
the areas where we are seeing recurrent issues of this sort. I
have read all these reports in these areas and you have a reference
to a subsection here of a particular group of staff, saying, "You
are having a particular difficulty in that area". It comes
back, as I say, to this 25% where we have got organisations which
need more general improvement and we are focusing on those areas.
At that time we focused strongly on areas such as induction and
diagnostics and others and we have seen improvements in those
Q85 Mr Williams: In paragraph 2.35 it
states that you would not allow training organisations to persistently
deliver a below-standard quality of training, but figure 4 shows
that you obviously did. I saw somewhere that you made a blanket
renewal at one stage of all contracts for a year. With records
like this how can you justify blanket renewals?
Mr Haire: The organisations which
we emphasise have failed to deliver, those ones that are the significant
weaknesses which at the time of the Report was 5% of the 77 TO
training areas inspected, those ones we are focusing on and those
are clearly ones that unless they improve very rapidly must leave
the system. These are areas where, as I say, in figure 4 they
are seeing problems in small areas of organisations and they are
rightly pointing out to them that this system must improve for
all areas. This is not saying that 88% of the quality of training
is bad within the system. That is not what my reading of the Report
and my reading of all the inspection reports is telling me.
Q86 Mr Williams: Rather than raise the
standards you have altered the standards and you have altered
the standards to enable you to keep incompetent suppliers in operation.
You no longer have targets on training outcomes and Access level
trainees, nor for progression into employment by leavers. If you
have not got those how can you judge whether people are persistently
failing or not? The reality is that you are hiding from the fact
that they are persistently failing or you just do not want to
Mr Haire: As I have stressed,
we have a system where in vocational areas people are failing
to get the performance and we take those contracts for those particular
vocation areas away. We have taken a significant number away.
We are monitoring the quality of outcome in this area. The inspectorate
reports are key to our work and I think this Report is very valuable
for us in emphasising how we must use those reports in pushing
up standards and we are totally committed to that.
Q87 Mr Williams: But, you see, with your
inadequate monitoring, looking at that list of failures in figure
4, the same training organisations would be guilty not just of
one of the shortcomings out of the 88%; they must be guilty of
many or most of the shortcomings in figure 4, must they not? How
do you renew contracts for them?
Mr Haire: Reading those reports,
they will emphasise, as I say, in such an area and in such a group
of staff for a small group of trainees that this has not been
done and this must be improved. As I say, we put people back.
They have to report in six months to get that sorted out. We inspect
again in 18-24 months and all those inspections are seeing those
issues being dealt with.
Q88 Mr Williams: But you have spent
half a billion pounds getting to the stage where you are saying,
"You have been naughty boys. You deserve dunces' hats. Go
and stand in the corner. You have had this half a billion pounds.
You can have some more money. Go away and try and do better, but
we are not going to set targets to tell us whether you are doing
better. Indeed, we are going to allow self-assessment in some
cases". How on earth can you justify self-assessment with
organisations with that sort of pathetic performance?
Mr Haire: The self-assessment
system is following the line of approach that has been developed
here with the Adult Learning Inspectorate. That is an exercise
to help organisations to improve their own processes. Every fourth
year the Education and Training Inspectorate goes in and assesses
them. That is the ultimate test. Clearly we are not letting people
judge themselves in that way. We are working with them to help
them improve the quality and the feedback from the inspectorate
is very positive.
In the first year of that process the people are taking it seriously,
are working on improving outcomes in that way and, as I say, we
wish to support them with the Learning and Skills Development
Agency in other ways and we are focusing on their leadership,
because leadership is key in this area, to help them improve that
process. We are certainly not leaving assessment purely to them.
Q89 Mr Williams: Let us turn to pages
57 and 58. We have figure 13 with different charts. The first
is on NVQ Achievement Rate. You look to the left hand side. Some
have got none. A lot have got less than 10%. A considerable number
have got less than 20%. The average is only 40%. What about those
down at the bottom end, 20% and below? Did any of them have their
Mr Haire: I have not been able
to trace those particular ones.
Q90 Mr Williams: It did not occur to
you to find out? Are you saying that the department never bothered
to find out which of the organisations were covered by these returns?
I just do not believe it.
Mr Haire: Sorry. We clearly have
I do not have it to hand at the moment.
Q91 Mr Williams: In that case could you
let us have a note?
Mr Haire: We certainly will.
Q92 Mr Williams: And will you identify
Mr Haire: We will identify them.
Q93 Mr Williams: If you are going to
do that let us go then to Leavers in Employment, the next chart.
Again we have the lowest delivering under 10%. There is a wedge
of them delivering less than 20%. Will you provide the same information
for them on employment?
Mr Haire: We will.
Q94 Mr Williams: Do you happen to know
off hand, if we take figure 1 and figure 2, whether those who
would be the poorest performers in achievement would also be the
poorest performers in employment? Would you know that?
Mr Haire: Sorry. It is logical
that that is going to be the connection. Some of these areas are
doing training with very small numbers of people, for example
10. They are very small organisations. It is one of the issues
I mentioned before where we have to focus on them.
Q95 Mr Williams: If NVQ achievement is
one of the main objectives and you cannot tell us how far the
people who are bad at that are also bad at employment. Let us
turn to the third chart, which is Leavers in Unemployment. Here
you have some with 100% in unemployment. How on earth can anyone
be so bad that they have 100% in unemployment, and they might
accidentally take on someone who could manage without their destructive
Mr Haire: Some of these are very
small, where we are focusing on areas of people who have difficulties
or disabilities in other areas. I will come back with the data
on this for you.
Mr Williams: On this one as well. I think
you can anticipate that you are going to get a blistering report
on the basis of what we are looking at today.
Q96 Mr Davidson: Can I ask whether or
not you accept all the recommendations that have been made in
Mr Haire: We do. At the end of
the issues on the question of extrapolation we have a debate with
the Audit Office about exactly how to extrapolate.
Q97 Mr Davidson: In general terms you
Mr Haire: In general terms, yes.
Q98 Mr Davidson: Have you seen other
reports from the National Audit Office covering other areas?
Mr Haire: I have obviously looked
at areas such as further education, etc.
Q99 Mr Davidson: I am just looking, for
example, at the level of recommendation that has had to be made.
If we look at 4.11 on page 67, it strikes me as such a basic recommendation
that it should not need to be given to any responsible department
because that is the sort of thing that they should be doing anyway.
You should not have to have a recommendation that says that you
should further develop your objectives, make them operational,
set targets. Surely you should have been doing this anyway? It
should not have needed the Audit Office to come in and tell you
that these things were necessary.
Mr Haire: As I have emphasised,
they welcomed the fact that we have introduced these and they
suggest that we further develop this. By 1999 we had started this
process with them.
10 Note by Witness: The overall sum recovered from
1995 to date is £566,012. Back
Note by Witness: ETI assess the TO self-evaluation and have commented
that 75% carry out the process well, and seminars are being held
for those who have not. However, it will take the new system of
self-evaluation a period of two-three years to bed in. Back
Ev 16 Back
Ev 16 Back
Ev 16 Back