I've just been having a look at te training websites the Work Programme recommended (tabs-training.com, alison.com, and vision2learn.com). I was told there are loads of these organisations, but when I asked for a comprehensive list I was told by the Adviser that she didn't have such a thing, however I can be sure that there are loads, despite being given only three.
Alison.com is a strange one with an equally strange name. It seems to be a bunch of higher education courses, but without the qualification. In other words you can be an 'amateur' student and do the learning for its own sake, just without the official reward. Not entirely sure what to make of it really, nor how I could use it on, say, a CV. The list of courses is not huge, but somewhat diverse - I could study for a 'diploma' in Human Resources, or Environment Science, or study Arabic (I'd prefer Mandarin, as it goes, but that's a personal thing).
The other two seem to be carbon copies and are really why I'm making this post. I've noticed, among the success stories workfare providers put out, a lot of similarity. Most of the providers have a couple of these 'personal testimonials' on their website, usually featuring young women who have ended up working in one of the caring professions. Great, if true, and good luck to them. However when you look at these training sites you see that 'health and social care' is one of the (few) categories that they offer, so it's easy for young women, usually those that don't have much of an idea of anything else, to end up in or end up wanting a career in health and social care.
The provider can then foot the bill (probably a couple of hundred quid, nothing huge) for them to study what isn't likely to be too taxing a curriculum. Let's be honest, these courses are not there to be arcane, inaccessible or hideously complicated. They are entry level courses. So it's probably easy to produce a success story from this situation with no real effort (from the provider). The real question is whether these people end up in a stable career as a result. Of course we hope they do, providing it's something they wanted and not something the provider persuaded them to do (under threat of non compliance perhaps) or that they felt obligated to do by virtue of no alternative.
Other courses are similar: IT Skills covering basic word processing, a bit of Excel, 'Life Skills' encompassing numeracy and literacy, 'Employability' which translates as construction card training, and, similar to health and social care, training in being a trainer in one of these 'Learning Centres'. So maybe if that's your thing, you could work in one of these places. It's all a bit of a closed circle really and, I fear, a bubble that, one day, will surely burst, if only through changes in technology/accessibility rendering them redundant. There are lots of these sites and places now; it's easy money for the likes of the Work Programme who doubtless get funding/payment each time they get someone on to a Health and Social Care course. But is this really going to address the problems in society of unemployment, underemployment, skills and knowledge? Or is this another example of big business dictating or running things: these courses for example don't cover art, culture, philosophy (what gave us democracy: thought or big business?), and creativity.