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Accountancy National Training Organisation losing support


The future looks bleak for the accountancy profession's National Training Organisation after backers have expressed major concerns over the way the body has been run.

The poor past performance of the profession's National Training Organisation has already led ICAS (Institute of Charered Accountants of Scotland)to withdraw support as the government reviews the sector - and other bodies are also expressing their disquiet.

The Accountancy National Training Organisation was set up to review vocational training within the profession. The body was funded by the government and CCAB bodies, minus ACCA but plus AAT. But inadequate explanations for late accounts, concerns over governance, mysterious resignations, and the poor quality of the body's output have raised eyebrows and threatened the future of the body's work at a crucial time.

The government is looking to replace the NTO network with Sector Skills Councils from March 2002. It will evaluate how the NTOs have developed to see if they can continue in the new structure. But the ICAS withdrawal is a body blow. Other backers agreed with ICAS that the ANTO has not fulfilled its potential. But, given the uncertain future for the government's vocational training structure, most are holding fire so that they can influence what comes next.

ANTO is looking to find a place for itself. It has issued a press release - available on AccountingWEB - asking employers for what it could do next. Education secretary Estelle Morris wants the new Sector Skills Councils to have the backing of key stakeholders.

Key criteria will include the need to develop world-class national occupational standards, such as Modern Apprenticeships. They will have to contribute to:

Reduction in skills gaps and shortages

Improved productivity and business performance

Increased employment across the sector's workforce

Improved training frameworks and standards

A review of ANTO's performance looks encouraging. It has promoted the Accounting Modern Apprenticeship scheme, the take up of which has significantly increased. It is currently revising the Accounting MA framework to make it more responsive to the needs of employers and to widen participation in this flagship government programme. It has produced a workforce development plan.

And it will also produce an Assessment Strategy that ensures all NVQs based on the Occupational Standards - how the government will measure quality - are assessed with sufficient rigour to enable confidence in the competence of staff who have achieved them.

CIPFA's Ken Gill said he would be surprised if any other body pulled out. But with the ICAI poised to do so by March, the profession may have to find itself another way into the debate over the government's plans for training.

Read the full story on Accountingweb


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