Career safety net for LSC directors

2nd February 2001 at 00:00
Five Learning and Skills Council directors get preferential government treatment

FIVE executive directors of the new learning and skills councils, who came from government departments or quangos, have been promised other jobs if their new positions do not work out.

They have been reassured that if they leave their LSC jobs for any reason, they will be restored to government or government-type jobs with no loss of salary.

All the other 42 executive directors resigned their existing jobs with no safety net to rely on. All 47 appointments, announced by Education and Employment minister Baroness Blackstone in September, are for four years, with salaries ranging from pound;51,975 to pound;85,047 per annum.

A spokesman for the LSC said: "All executive directors were required to resign from the job they had at the time. They were all recruited on the same basis, through firm and open competition. I would not anticipate that the LSC would be privy to such an arrangement."

The DFEE said: "We do not discuss details of contractual arrangements with individual employees or former employees.

"It is not unusual for the DFEE to offer re-instatement for senior staff who move to other governmental agencies where they are required to resign to take up such opportunities, for example, with European institutions like the European Parliament."

But there are no guarantees for second-tier appointments, such as the LSC senior management team. Some staff have come from the Further Education Funding Council or the Employment Service and would be made redundat if for any reason the LSC was abolished. The LSC's chief executive, John Harwood, insists that his staff are not on secondment.

The five with job security are: Paul Holme, formerly head of resources and contract management division, Department for Education and Employment; Nick Wilson, formerly director of skills and enterprise, government office for the South-east; Simon Norton, formerly head of marketing and employer services, Employment Service; Rob Wye, formerly head of efficiency division, DFEE; and Dugald Sandeman, formerly head of strategy and communications, Qualifications and Curriculum Authority.

Meanwhile, the DFEE faces mounting criticism over its proposed overhaul of the rules regulating college governance. It is using the LSC's imminent launch as an opportunity to replace all colleges' articles and instruments of government.

One proposal is effectively to give the power of dismissal of the principal or a senior post-holder to the chair or vice-chair of the corporation.

One principal told FE Focus: "I have worked for three chairmen and two of them have been as mad as hatters. If they had had this kind of power, I would not be around now."

Ken Clarke, general secretary of the 300-strong principals' professional council, said the proposal was appalling. "My colleagues and I are incensed and we are going to challenge it. It appears that whatever offence is alleged to have been committed, the person has no rights but can just be dismissed. I cannot think of any organisation where such a regulation would apply."

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