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The Way I See it: Quangos – Just a Merry Dance?


Dancers at the gathering. Braemar, Grampian, ScotlandQuangos and other government-sponsored organisations can help companies source training and grants, but in the internet age is that enough? Simon Derry, director of Project Leaders International, argues that government quangos need to offer businesses something more.

Last week I was contacted by a very nice person who wanted to set up a meeting to show how a new service run by the Learning and Skills Council could help my company with regards to sourcing training. It was free and funded by the Government and was focused on getting my company the training it needs to succeed in the new market place. It offered three distinct services;

  • Conducting a training needs analysis for you on your business

  • Recommending the most appropriate training providers

  • Helping you get the best value for money from your training providers
  • It was a slow day in the office so I said I was interested and a brochure was emailed to me straightaway. However after reading the brochure and accompanying email me it struck me that I’m not sure we are getting true value for money from the Government in the way it helps businesses with their training needs.

    Fighting for funding
    The one service that did gain my interest was the one about funding (of course!), but on closer inspection it was not about funding itself but how to go about getting funding, one step removed, so to speak.

    In fact the brochure stated:
    "There are many sources of funding available and it can be difficult for businesses to work out what suits them best. We can help identify what funding is available, and where your business might have to pay for training itself.”

    Well, why not make access to funding easier and more straightforward in the first instance and eliminate the morass of red tape rather than fund another service to help you get through the bureaucracy that the same government department creates in the first instance? Is it me or does that make better sense?

    Knowing my business
    Now I have nothing against people wanting to give me money to help me run my business but the services that this organisation offers is what I expect my colleagues to do as part of running the business. I already know how important training is to my business as I work in the so-called “Knowledge Economy” therefore running a Training Needs Analysis or sourcing the best providers for me and my business is core to what they (and everyone) should do!

    I know my business better than any government quango and, what is more, when I have asked Business Link et al. to ‘source’ training providers for me I find that we can do it quicker, better and more comprehensively than they can – through the wonderful world wide web!

    We need something more or … less even?
    In summary, the services that a lot of quangos offer seem to be nothing more than the low value-added administrative tasks of searching through government red tape to offer you something that you have probably paid for with your Corporation Tax already!

    What we do need is a body that goes out and finds what’s new in the world of training and technology and then comes back and shows us how it’s being done in our markets in this global economy – we need innovative and creative services in short. What we don’t need is another fund-finding service or networking provider that adds little value and duplicates what we have already.


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