The quality of IT training for adults has been slammed by the Adult Learning Inspectorate (ALI). In its annual report the government watchdog says that almost 60 per cent of training providers in the UK are inadequate.
As a result, young people in full-time education and training on the government's New Deal for the unemployed are failing to win jobs or achieve qualifications at the end of it, it said. The ALI report includes feedback on 42 IT training providers.
Almost 40 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds who join the New Deal after being unemployed for six months or more go into full-time education and training.
But ALI spokeswoman Gill Davison said the report found that only 26 per cent went on to get a job and less than a third came away with any qualifications, even though their courses are aimed at getting them both after a year.
The report also highlighted huge dropout rates from the government's modern apprenticeship scheme, with 64 per cent of trainees on foundation and advanced apprenticeships failing to complete their training.
"Although it is a matter of real concern and the main responsibility for the quality of training provision is down to the providers, there were circumstances that made it difficult to deliver," Davison said.
In particular, she highlighted changes to the framework to how apprenticeships are delivered, and a lack of understanding among employers and training providers about what 'key skills' are and how to assess them.
But the report warns that misunderstandings of modern business, and mistaken attempts to meld academic and vocational traditions embedded in the modern apprenticeship systems make it tough for all but the hardiest and wealthiest provider to succeed.
"We must not make apprenticeships a soft option, or betray the young people and their parents who see an apprenticeship as preparation for a career, not just a job, but we do need to be realistic in tackling things which do not work," the report said.
The number of people working in the IT industry has increased by nearly 40 per cent to about one million since 1998. But many employers are reluctant to take on young people without previous IT training, the report warns. And while employers value vendor qualifications, training providers struggle to find work placements where students can work towards them.
In a statement, ALI chief inspector David Sherlock said a rethink of training was needed to offer shorter, more adaptable courses. "We do not yet have a model that is sufficiently flexible to meet the training needs of the 21st century," he said.
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