Quangos run out of skilled leaders

18th November 2005 at 00:00
You've got to hand it to the Learning and Skills Network.

The latest further education quango has barely drawn its first breath and yet it has already succeeded in identifying another skills shortage which needs to be addressed if quango management, Britain's most successful profession, is going to be allowed to flourish.

The quango industry is growing at such a rate, apparently, that the nation is rapidly running out of suitably-qualified people to run things.

But like so many problems that FE faces, this is a problem caused by success - in this case, the success of the state's ability to sprout tentacles and invent new organisations responsible for spending public money.

The problem came to light over lunch with a chum of mine who has had their ears to the ground during the search for someone to run the Learning and Skills Network - which grew out of the Learning and Skills Development Agency.

There were 50 applicants for the post, according to the press blurb which announced the appointment of John Stone as chief executive, and, we are told, there was a shortlist of five candidates.

They were lucky to find such a gem as Mr Stone.

My mole tells me college principals were bombarded with calls urging them to apply for the post and headhunters were burning the midnight oil trying the get a credible list together. I understand the job was almost as hard to fill as the chief executive post at the Learning and Skills Council.

Thankfully, there is greater demand for the job John Stone leaves behind, as principal of Ealing, Hammersmith, and West London college.

Apparently, the power-dressing principal of Croydon college, Mariane Cavalli, is up for the job. From this, we must assume that she feels her reputation is intact after the recent consultancy report said she had improved the college's race-equality policy.

But it remains to be seen whether the college's reputation will survive the latest probe - this time by the boys in blue.

Back at the Nick, there are plenty of bacon sandwiches and cups of coffee as the Metropolitan Police carries out its own inquiries into shenanigans at the college, which might yet lead to charges against Kaveh Gharachorlou, Ms Cavalli's human resources director. He is under investigation after police removed computers from his home and the college, after allegations of poison pen letters.

Email us at FErret@tes.co.uk

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