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Quango's staff take dim view of their leaders

The Learning and Skills Council lacks credibility and direction, claims survey. Ngaio Crequer reports

The Government's pound;8 billion education and training quango suffers from poor leadership with no clear direction and lacks credibility, say its own employees.

Moreover, there is a culture of secrecy in the Learning and Skills Council - employees feel they are unable to speak their mind, according to a survey leaked to FE Focus.

Only 32 per cent gave a favourable response on "leadership", and 38 per cent thought the pace of change was too fast. Only 14 per cent thought the national executive team was doing a good job managing change. But about half thought the LSC was making a real difference to learners.

The employee survey was carried out by International Survey Research (ISR).

The Chicago-based company describes itself as the world's premier global research and consulting firm. It specialises in "the creation of customised employee and management opinion surveys and other tools, helping organisations improve capital performance".

The employee attitude survey is the first of its kind undertaken by the LSC. The staff voice was "loud" according to ISR, with a 75 per cent response rate. It was also sceptical, with only 28 per cent of employees believing that the LSC would act on their concerns.

But David Russell, director of human resources, said: "The results are better than we expected. We have scored better on performance and reward than other high-performing companies. Most of our staff believe the work we do is of excellent quality. People understand the LSC mission. They enjoy coming to work."

The LSC does not act as one organisation, said 60 per cent. Forty per cent said the management style helped employees to do their best, but 46 per cent disagreed.

Only 30 per cent believed it was safe to speak their mind at the LSC. A bare 21 per cent say the council is highly regarded by its customers, but 67 per cent said in dealing with its customers it had integrity.

Just 24 per cent said the LSC was doing a good job promoting the most competent people. Staff felt they were not sufficiently informed about what was happening in other local offices. Eighty-five per cent thought there was too much bureaucracy at the LSC.

The ISR will be holding workshops within the next four weeks for all managers. Mr Russell said action plans would be drawn up to address some of the issues.

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