One in five young people joins a flagship vocational training scheme in Northern Ireland needing help with basic English and maths, a committee of MPs has revealed.
And Dr Patrick Murphy, head of the Belfast Institute of Further and Higher Education says the Jobskills programme tends to discriminate against slow learners, according to the report by the Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee.
He said: "The insistence in the Jobskills programme that qualifications must be achieved within two years tends to discriminate against slow learners and thus make them into low achievers.
Of the 750 trainees at the college, 160 have major problems with basic literacy and numeracy.
Dr Murphy said: "They will make significant educational progress together with an increase in self-esteem, and the only way the institute can attract them into training is through the weekly training allowance offered through Jobskills.
"Their apparent failure as Jobskills trainees is dutifully recorded by the inspectorate system, but the truth is that the education and training system is failing them.
"They cannot succeed on Jobskills, but they are on the programme because there is no alternative training provision."