Select Committee on Education and Skills Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from Computeach (ILA 40)

  "Computeach welcomes the possibility of a replacement scheme that will help individuals improve their chances of life-long learning and help tackle the current skills crisis within the Information Technology industry."


    —  ILA holders have enhanced their mathematics and IT skills to a sound understanding of principles combined with basic practical skills

    —  The scheme has proved there is a massive demand for IT skills training

    —  The ethos of designating a bank account specifically for the facilitation of learning is principally sound


    —  The initial approval process designed to screen the quality of training provider was not sufficiently stringent. Limited liability insurance is not a measure of an organisation's ability to deliver quality training.

    —  The process for checking the validity of the trainee's application was questionable. An applicant did not have to provide a national insurance number.

    —  The level of qualification listed for the higher level of ILA funding was too low and was not therefore linked to the type of skills necessary to help an individual into IT employment. The list was exclusive and inflexible. It omitted most higher-level qualifications being demanded by employers. A City & Guilds qualification in Typewriter Maintenance was possibly the most extreme example of unsuitability.

    —  The level of funding available per person was initially uncapped which lead to some unscrupulous organisations inflating training costs for relatively low-level qualifications. Later, when it became obvious that the system was being abused the level was reduced to a maximum of £200 which is too low relative to the level of fees payable for higher level career courses.


  1.  Training providers must comply to a Standards Charter:

    —  They must be established registered limited company (or if sole trader/partnership an auditable trading record must be available) trading for a minimum period of time (two years).

    —  They must have a track record in training and prove their methods are successful eg candidates achieving qualifications, career progression within existing role or complete change into IT industry.

    —  They must aptitude test candidates prior to enrolment to ensure their suitability for training.

    —  Training providers must be approved, monitored and controlled by a government department that is expert at the audit process eg Inland Revenue or Customs & Excise.

  2.  Individuals must sign up to a Statement of Personal Development:

    —  Individuals must promise to devote a minimum number of hours per week to training and personal development.

    —  They must prove that they are UK nationals, have contributed to the income tax system and provide a national insurance number

  3.  A replacement scheme must offer at its heart, a route to achieving in-demand skills (eg programming, systems analysis, networking and internet technologies) and secondly link to relevant qualifications. The Computer Weekly Survey of Apointments Data and Trends lists those most in-demand and Computeach delivers training involving all of the top ten skills.

    —  Presently, the IT industry is dominated by a handful of software vendors such as Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, CISCO systems, Oracle and so on. Most of these organisations offer certification tracks that have been adopted by employers as industry standard. If qualifications are to become a criterion within a replacement scheme it is therefore imperative that these well-recognised vocational qualifications are included. These qualifications can only be delivered by quality organisations with established infrastructures!

  4.  The amount of funding dedicated to an individual's learning account is key to the success of the scheme.

    —  The individual must be encouraged to complete training by incentive and therefore they must contribute the "lion's share". A learning programme of sufficient substance to facilitate a new career in IT will cost in excess of £3,000.00. The level of contribution awarded by the Vocational Tax Relief (VTR) scheme (preceded the ILA scheme) was related to income tax at 23 per cent and proved sufficient to encourage individuals to enrol and complete training. Whilst there is merit in encouraging lower level skills training eg ECDL, it makes sense to layer funding depending on the level or grade of skill/qualification attained. For the upper stratum ie training towards the aforementioned skills areas, a cap of £1,000.00 would be prudent.


  1.  Computeach International is the UK's leading provider of high quality distance learning courses in information technology.

  2.  Established since 1964.

  3.  Over 4,000 students register to undertake one of our courses every year but more than 2,000 enquire each week!

  4.  Thousands of Computeach trainees have secured IT employment through the combination of quality training and proactive job search support.

  5.  Member of all of the key IT associations and bodies such as Institute for the Management of Information Systems, the Computing Services and Software Association, the British Computer Society and the Institution of Analysts and Programmers.

  6.  First organisation of its kind to achieve ISO 9001 quality assurance status in 1994, and is now working towards the new 9001/2000 standard.

  7.  An independent report by SWA Consulting and University of Hull (July 2001) for the DfES regarding Career Development Loan Defaults effectively endorses the type of training offered by Computeach. It concludes that lower defaults were experienced when students undertook "longer courses," and when "taking out loans in the range of £1,500-£2,500" and "lower rates for primarily distance learning courses."


February 2002

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