Skills commissioners need to prove they will add value

The announcement of the commissioners to oversee the all-new Commission for Employment and Skills (Personnel Today, 11 December 2007 and 1 January 2008) gave me an acute bout of déjà vu.

I have seen and heard all this hype before so many times. Cast your minds back to the days of the Manpower Services Commission and the YTS and so many other initiatives. All were major financial drains and, in reality, as ineffective as one another, as each new quango seemed to be controlled by the same people who failed time after time.

As always, the bright and able are allowed to forge ahead and pick up jobs and careers, but the less bright and non-academic are rarely chosen by the various groups who hold the initial interviews, as everyone wants to look good. So the less bright are turned away to vegetate somewhere.

But it is the less bright who must be given the chance or they will bring the country to its knees and it is the less bright who deserve to end up looking good, not the interviewer or the captain of industry [appointed as a commissioner] who want to show how clever they are.

I do hope the commissioners really perform and that it is not just a prelude to receiving an honour of some form for just being there? I can appreciate that this initiative, if carried out properly, can help many, but it must be geared to the less able and not exclusively the bright ones.

I do fear, however, that this list of commissioners will hardly know how to treat the less bright as these people need time and special attention and who, in reality, really cares in-depth beyond themselves?

John Hooley, posted on

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