'Poor' private company still has pound;220,000 public-sector deal

Steve Hook

THE private training company criticised by inspectors for inadequate workplace learning is still in business - with funding from the Learning and Skills Council.

Omega Training Services still has a pound;220,000 contract with Birmingham and Solihull Learning and Skills Council to train a maximum of 90 modern apprentices as care staff.

The TEC, which was replaced by the local LSC in April, was criticised in the final annual report of the Training Standards Council for continuing its training contract. Only four of 276 people on Omega's books have completed their individual training plans since 1997.

"One must ask how it came about that a TEC continued to place contracts during four years when only four trainees out of 276 gained a qualification," said Mr Sherlock, now chief inspector at the Adult Learning Inspectorate, who held the same post at the TSC, which it replaced.

He told FE Focus: "This was an extreme example. This was the only provider available locally. The provider should have made their own self-assessment but did not."

Omega scored 4 (less than satisfactory) and a 5 (poor) on a five-point scale in its last inspection by the TSC.

David Cragg, who was chief executive of the TEC, is now executive director of the local LSC. He said an improvement plan had been agreed with Omega and future contracts would depend on a re-inspection due early next year. "We are very encouraged by the improvements we have seen already," he added.

He stressed the TSC's inspection, completed in draft form in January, was not officially published until April 29, a month after the training contract with Omega was renewed.

Mr Cragg said Mr Sherlock's statement was "inaccurate". Omega had a 57 per cent pass rate at NVQ level 3 and 40 per cent at level 2.

Maureen Gallagher, a co-director of Omega, said improvements would focus on key skills."Key skills has been a big problem. But we are looking forward to and confident about our re-inspection."

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Steve Hook

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