Scottish Enterprise claims youth and adult trainees are getting a better deal despite severe cuts in its budget from the Scottish Office. Crawford Beveridge, the agency's chief executive, said at the launch of its annual report that there was "heartening" evidence of increased quality training at a time when expenditure was constrained.
Mr Beveridge pinpointed the rising number of people on youth training who also have a job, up from 25 per cent at the start of the decade to 62 per cent in 1996-97. This is largely due to the advent of the Skillseekers programme which puts a premium on trainees having employed status. More than 22,000 jobs are now associated with training through Skillseekers, a 17 per cent increase on 1995-96.
The figures showed young people are receiving more than a basic training, with 80 per cent of 13,731 vocational qualifications at levels II and III or above. This has taken place against a background of virtually standstill expenditure on youth training, which totalled Pounds 86 million in 1996-97.
The fall in spending on adult training has been more pronounced, from Pounds 50 million to Pounds 36 million over six years. The report suggests the effect has been partly offset by a fall in adult unemployment but it has not stopped an increase in the number of "positive outcomes", those coming off programmes and into jobs or further training and education, which has almost doubled from 5919 to 9995 in six years.
Vocational qualifications were gained by 6,447 adults in the past year compared with 3,734 in 1991-92. But only 12 per cent of adults were in jobs at the start of their training, although that is double the figure of six years ago. Scottish Enterprise's latest survey shows that three months after completing their course 36 per cent of adult trainees who responded were in employment and 10 per cent were in further training or education.
This dramatic upturn, together with the growing VQ success rate, will convince the Government that it is on the right track with the welfare-to-work programme, which aims to open up training and job opportunities for 25, 000 18 to 25-year-olds in Scotland.
But the report also demonstrates the considerable strides that have still to be made. Fewer than a third of the 36,539 young people who embarked on training last year achieved level II VQs or above, although that is a considerable improvement from just over 18 per cent six years ago. And the number of "positive outcomes" for adults represents only 36 per cent of the 27,705 unemployed adults who started training last year.
Mr Beveridge said the agency would continue to target university research to ensure it made a contribution to Scottish industry and to overseas investors. Some 700 undergraduates are currently studying "entrepreneurship".
* Scottish Enterprise also reveals a rise in the number of organisations committed to achieving Investors in People status. Low take-up has proved a stumbling block in the push for national education and training targets.
Last year's figures show 1,950 employers were pledged to work towards the IIP standard compared with 375 the previous year. But only 442 organisations, including some schools, actually gained recognition in 1996-97 although that was an increase from 129.