Select Committee on Education and Skills Minutes of Evidence


Examination of Witnesses (Questions 140 - 143)

WEDNESDAY 30 JANUARY 2002

MISS JANE OWENS AND MR JOHN RODGER

  140. You said that the first thing you thought about was that perhaps Capita's records were wrong in some way. Were there questions back to Capita about that?
  (Miss Owens) We reported the findings to the department. We are not sure what they did. I know that they were very keen to find out about the 82 individuals and they had asked for their details. It was not possible to give that to the department because of the Market Research Society code of conduct that states that the data given in an interview, unless one specifically says that it will be passed on, remains confidential.

  141. A small number of the people you spoke to were using ILA money which was designed for basic IT training for courses like feng shui and plumbing. What sort of percentage was that and how did that happen?
  (Miss Owens) It was a small percentage—in the tens—in both cases of the surveys. I do not know how that happened without going into the detail of the process through which people have to go. We do know that one provider to whom we spoke in the early survey said that, because there was confusion about which courses were eligible for ILA support, he tended to get people to fill in the form and send it off and wait to see what happened.

Chairman

  142. Thank you for explaining that. You are very experienced researchers and you know the education sector well. I am getting the impression that on the one hand, you have found great enthusiasm and satisfaction for the Individual Learning Accounts from people who were taking them up and on the other hand you are implying that you were picking up earlier signs of something going wrong. When you talked to the 100 providers, did you ring up providers who sounded, in the common vernacular, a bit dodgy? When you did the telephone survey, did you pick up things that sounded as though they were selling something totally different and had stumbled into this because they thought they were on to a good thing? Did you pick up anything like that?
  (Miss Owens) Personally I spoke to 32 providers, not all in England. I cannot say that that was an issue that I or my colleagues who made the phone calls ever said to each other.

  143. In both of the surveys the alarm bells did not start buzzing?
  (Miss Owens) No, not at all.

  Chairman: Thank you very much indeed.


 
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