MPs astounded at delay to replace fraud-ridden ILAs

24 Jan 02
MPs this week expressed their dismay at the government's failure to replace the flawed Individual Learning Account (ILA) programme with a workable alternative.

25 January 2002

Despite making the decision to wind down the fraud-ridden training scheme in October, senior civil servants within the Department for Education and Skills revealed they have few firm ideas on how to introduce widely accessible, quality-assured training.

Ministers decided last October to re-examine the ILA programme, which provided adults with access to vocational training through grants, after it was found to be vulnerable to mis-selling and fraud by bogus providers.

The extent of the abuse later forced the government to close the programme in November.

At an education and skills select committee hearing on January 23, DfES director of adult learning Derek Grover said that the department would implement a 'son of ILA', but had made no decision on how or when.

Committee chair Barry Sheerman said he was 'astounded' that the department failed to act quickly to fix the flaws in the original system, or to formulate an alternative.

Grover argued that the delay was down to the department's determination to introduce an abuse-free system and that 'the major consideration was how to balance the need for wider access with an acceptable system of quality training assurance'.

Committee members expressed 'serious concern' over whether quality assurance could be provided on a national basis.

Witnesses from the private sector told the committee that it would be more appropriate to monitor providers through accreditation on a regional basis.

James O'Brien from the Association of Computer Trainers said: 'While the government ponders the replacement system, thousands of training jobs are at risk.'


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