Will local government do training better than quangos?

Yes: according to Islington Council leader James Kempton in a new pamphlet, “Governing a world city“.

The booklet looks at the big issues for London government – crime, the Olympics, housing, child poverty – and James’ piece is on the latest changes proposed to the education and training of 16-19 year olds. Unusually for a Government so in love with quangos as new Labour, this time the change is back to local councils.

James rather optimistically writes that this “shows a real shift in government confidence over [local government's] ability to deliver.” He points out that getting rid of the quangos “cuts out a layer of needless bureaucracy”, hooray for that, although the language of “light touch commissioning models” and “a regional commissioning plan to guarantee learner choice” suggests that bureaucracy isn’t entirely done for.

Best of all, he sets out some real examples of how this will benefit London teenagers, including giving young people who’ve left school access to courses as well as school students; sensible careers advice; and lots of new apprenticeships, including on projects such as Crossrail.

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2 Comments »

  1. Robin Webb said

    Local government won’t do any better than the quangos, but we might save some money as taxpayers by doing away with a layer or two of wasteful bureaucracy.
    The LSC achieves nothing through its death-by-1000 initiatives approach to training and ‘employer engagement’. Colleges and training providers are notoriously poor at working with employers and providing up-to-date skills that employers want.
    Using expensive private ‘training brokers’ like A4E and others was supposed to be a more effective way of bridging the gap, on the basis that the private sector is better than the public sector when it comes to getting results.
    In return for receiving large amounts of taxpayer money via the LSC, these brokers do conjure up SOME headcount figures for the LSC to claim as achievement, but the reality is that success rates and positive outcomes for learners and employers are negligible in terms of gaining useful skills, qualifications, employment and filling jobs.

    Meanwhile, the directors of these broker organisations, usually set up quickly a few years ago when there was a sniff of easy government money, swan around in large German limousines, lighting their cigars with the money earned in profits at the taxpayer’s expense.

    Skilling the workforce to meet learner needs, address skills gaps, fill jobs and improve employer profitability should be a function of good government, not profit-takers.

  2. Liberal Neil said

    I was on the board of our local LSC for two years and it was very clear to me that it did little that councils couldn’t have done equally well.

    What it did do was spend a large chunk of money on an extra tier of staff and an extra communications budget.

    It also spent a lot of time liaising with local councils because they were involved in many other key aspects of post-16 education and training.

    I have no doubt that councils will run things at least as well as the LSC and have the potential to save money at the same time.

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