Three out of four adults on the Government's Training for Work scheme were still out of work three months after completing their courses, official figures on the performance of training and enterprise councils show, writes Ian Nash.
The disappointing response to the programme has fuelled a growing row between TEC officials and Whitehall mandarins over red tape which the councils say is hampering their efforts to get the unemployed back to work.
The programme was launched in 1993 to replace two temporary work training schemes for the long-term unemployed.
It was set up to give TECs greater freedom in the market following a barrage of criticisms about repeated budget cuts and bureaucratic restraints.
Success rates in getting people to work from the Training for Work scheme vary markedly around the country.
Even the best, Lancashire TEC, only managed to find jobs for 53 per cent. The worst was Bedfordshire with 15 per cent.
Ministers published the figures with an upbeat presentation, saying that the gap between the best and worst had "narrowed".
But a national average success rate of 27 per cent does not bode well for the Government's target of 50 per cent by 1997.
Even using the Government's broader definition of success, including gaining a job or a college place, results are disappointing. The success rate in this category is still only 30 per cent.
Doubts were raised over the Government's whole training programme for people who are long-term unemployed, with another embarrassing leak of an official document.
In the document, Chris Humphries, TEC national policy director, accused the Department for Education and Employment of failing "to meet its commitments to unemployed people."
Government data on TEC performance also shows a drop in the costs of Youth Training from an average of Pounds 2,751 to Pounds 2,156 per person.
One further education college principal complained: "Budgets have been cut to the bone as we are expected to meet unrealistically low costs."
As The TES went to press a ministerial reply to the TEC memo leak was expected.