Thursday, March 19, 2009

Latest Skills Industry Fiasco

Tumbledown FE provision

BOM readers will be familiar with the abysmal nationalised skills industry (see previous posts here - including video - here, and here).

The industry is "controlled" by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), a sprawling dysfunctional quango that presides over a quagmire of 500 separate organisations and bureaucracies. It costs us over £12bn pa, yet fails almost entirely to deliver the skills employers actually value.

This morning we have news of their latest fiasco - their grandiose college rebuilding programme has imploded because the money's run out:

"Colleges in England have indicated they face losing more than £100m because of delays in getting funding they say was promised for refurbishment. Some 144 building projects are on hold while funding is being reviewed by the Learning and Skills Council."

This is a serious problem because in many cases the colleges have already started the projects, incurring big costs. There's now a real chance some might go bust:
"Barnsley College (pic above) is half demolished with rebuilding work due to begin in May. Its principal said it looked as though the contractors would have to make people redundant.

He said the situation "could end up bankrupting the college" because he had taken out bank loans on the basis that the work would be done and students - with associated funding - would be taking up places in the new buildings. Without the buildings, he has no student income and no way of repaying the loans."

Further Education Minister Sion Simon was thrust before Humphrys on BBC R4 Today to explain.

Only he couldn't.

In a stammering embarrassing performance he just kept repeating the classic robotic lines we've heard so often:

"We've made it quite clear this is unacceptable."

But you're responsible!

"No. Ministers make policy and the LSC is responsible for administering the policy."

But the LSC reports to YOU!

"Which is precisely why we've ordered an enquiry."

Well, that's just buck passing - who's taking the rap?

"That's what we're enquiring into"

Gah! Are you going to let these colleges go bust?

"Well... er... umm... unacceptable... LSC's fault... enquiry... rrrrrrr... click..."

Are you going to let them go bust?

"We've made it quite clear.... rrrrrrrrrrrrr... click click click..."

Some might say you bailed out the banks, but not these colleges!

"We will expect the LSC to deal urgently with their situations. We are absolutely not willing to see colleges go bust."

Absolutely not willing to see colleges go bust. WTF kind of tortured doublespeak pants is that?

Sion Simon is of course a notorious twok, whose only previous claim to public attention was his hilarious video spoof of Cam:

The question is why would anyone entrust a £12bn industry to a failed comedian?

And the answer is they wouldn't.

Except in government of course, where it's perfectly normal.

How do we get rid of them again?

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