Examination of Witnesses (Questions 160-169)|
MONDAY 12 NOVEMBER 2001
160. Which is?
(Mr Sanderson) Which would presumably mean that FE
would have to be rewarded better than it has been up to now. I
go no stronger than that. I am saying in a different form to business
and to the Treasury, when they listen to me that this is in the
national productivity interest, which we have not mentioned today,
not just in the interest of the individual concerned or of the
FE system. The biggest drag on our national productivityand
it is still 15 to 20 per cent below the best in Europe and more
like 35 to 40 per cent below the best in the USis that
we under-educateand the Chancellor has said this himselfthis
tier of the population, and we have to apply some more resources
161. There is quite a high turnover of lecturers
in colleges, you have mentioned earlier that a lot of staff are
drifting off to work in schoolsand we heard in another
session that it is around £6,000 a year more for doing what
can be an easier jobdo you think the current differentiation
between college lecturers and teachers is undermining the performance
(Mr Sanderson) I think it is very unhelpful.
162. On the tentativeness issue, and linking
it to participation, your Corporate Plan refers to your duty to
encourage employers to find further education and training and
your duty to finance it. Is that not rather tentative because
do not the local LSCs have a very specific duty to draw up workforce
development plans? How many have done that? If none of them have
done it, when are you likely to see the first one?
(Mr Harwood) They are preparing their strategic plans
at the moment.
163. Is it a workforce development plan rolled
up within the strategic plan, or is it a separate document?
(Mr Harwood) It will be in the future but at the moment
we are waiting for the PIU report to come out about workforce
development, so we will not be pre-empting that report, for obvious
reasons. The position at local level is that each of the 47 will
have its own over-view of its strategic plan, within which will
nest a range of other local plans, raising participation and so
on. That system is being created at the moment. Right at the beginning
I talked about the transitional process of creating the Learning
and Skills Council and bringing it to a stable state, and in that
process was the publishing of the national Corporate Plan in the
summer of this year, that leading to the first publication of
the 47 local Learning and Skills Council plans which will be published
in the spring of next year, from February, March time next time,
and then we will get into a cycle of annual publication thereafter.
164. When we get into that cycle will there
be a specific workforce development plan prepared by each local
(Mr Harwood) We think that will be the way to go forward
but I cannot give you an absolute guarantee because we are still
in the process of developing how this system should actually work.
165. We do need sensitivity. I hear what Bryan
Sanderson said about this in terms of the balance between young
people in Sunderland or Barnsley. Too often this Committee hears
of public sector/private sector partnerships delivering in both
early educationearly years, for examplethrough to
a whole range of programmes where you need a strong private sector
partner, and the private sector has a history in this country
of being a bit reluctant to put its money where its aspirations
are in terms of training. I do not know if Mr Sanderson agrees
with that, he comes from the private sector, but certainly under
all governments there has been this problem that so many companiesnot
the BPs of this worldhave not put the commitment into training.
That is one of the reasons we are lagging behind Germany and Japan
and the United States. Is it not the case that in very many parts
of our country, the private sector is now very weak? If you are
looking for partnership locally in Sunderland or in Barnsley,
it is much more difficult than in many other parts of the country.
(Mr Sanderson) I must say I am not sure of the data
base which supports these assertions. I could produce people,
some of them even friends of mine
166. You are not becoming as tentative as your
chief executive, are you!
(Mr Sanderson) I could produce some friends of mine
who would tell you that the private sector is pouring money into
training and the figure is £20 billion
167. In the SME sector?
(Mr Sanderson) There the data base is even more elusive.
I think you will probably have to separate Ms from Ss there. I
think some of the companies in the 10 to 200 area are actually
putting a lot into training. You would be hard put I think, from
my limited experience, to find people with less than five employees
doing much training; they are not at that stage yet. One of the
issues we have to be very careful of is that we tend to have,
most of us, a mindset which is to do with the manufacturing industries
when we talk about these issues. You are right, of course, it
is incredibly difficult in places like Sunderland to find these
apprenticeship schemes any more because the ship building has
gone and the coal mining has gone but if you look at the two most
successful performers perhaps in the last five to ten years in
the world, the US and the UK, you could argue, they are the ones
which have swung most away from the old-fashioned manufacturing
towards the service sector, which is a much more disparate sector
and it also comes and goes much more quickly. So tracking down
the data is difficult and we have an enormous communications task
with local Connexions and others to get through to those people
and persuade them training pays. I have absolutely no doubt that
it does, and I do not think you would have any problem getting
big companies to assert that, but it is hard to get through sometimes
to deliver the message to the SMEs, and that is a big part of
168. Mr Harwood and Mr Sanderson, what two things
do you want to achieve before we meet again?
(Mr Harwood) The two things are, first of all, a smooth
transition of sixth form fundingthis is assuming, Chairman,
of course, you are not going to be inviting me back before April
next yearand a clear indication we are moving on those
top priority targets we set out in the Corporate Plan.
(Mr Sanderson) I would like some very effective communication
from all of you and ministers to get vocational education and
all the areas we have been talking about put in the samesorry
about the phraseparity of esteem area as academic education.
I think this country is bedevilled by academic snobbery, both
the left and the right, this is not a political issue, and that
is why we do so badly. It goes back a couple of hundred of years
in the sort of areas we have been talking about. I would like
to see some very determined communication to try and eliminate
that slur which is attached to vocational education at the moment.
Then I would like some more money and some time and space to be
able to do what we have been describing, because it is a big job.
169. Mr Sanderson, you are a much more powerful
and influential person than any single Member of Parliament. I
hope you will be networking and knocking on doors to help us achieve
those extra resources because as we go round our FE sector what
they talk about constantly is parity of esteem, core funding and
particularly pay; a well-motivated and well-paid workforce is
essential. Thank you for coming. Because you are the biggest quango,
we may have to ask for the arrangement we have with others of
your size and influence and perhaps have two visits a year, if
you can bear that, perhaps one on your annual report and the other
on other issues, as we do with OFSTED. I do hope you do not take
this amiss but quoting from that great figure of the cinema, Buzz
Lightyear, what we need is "to infinity and beyond"
because those sort of aspirations we desperately need in FE. Thank