Short-term view

11th June 2004 at 01:00
After numerous cases of misappropriation of funds by franchises operating training schemes, is it not the time to reconsider this policy? It should be remembered that it was the old Further Education Funding Council that created this mess and I haven't as yet mentioned the ill-fated individual learning accounts. God knows how many millions have gone astray. Faced as I am with a college in need of considerable repair, my very obvious point is wouldn't that money have gone a long way towards supporting actual FE infrastructure.

By way of an analogy, in 1957 the then Conservative government, keen to consolidate its position, triggered a boom in high-rise building by offering an increment per storey to contractors. Housing was the issue of the day and it made political sense. The mistake, though, was to leave this regeneration in local authority hands. While Macmillan boasted about the statistics, the resulting buildings were ostensibly impressive, but it didn't take long for the cracks to literally start showing. Pressure to meet housing targets had meant corners had been cut and it suited the contractors because they got their money on tap. Within 20 years many of these poorly constructed buildings would be facing demolition. A similar combination of factors has played a part in franchising. The fault is in the absence of accountability in the pursuit of favourable statistics for short-term survival and political gain. When will we learn?

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