A MAN suffering from long-term unemployment has said he feels "cheated" and "ripped-off" after being sent to a training centre owned by an Alcester firm in the hope of finding a new job.
Anthony Barlow, 62, from Havant, Hampshire had worked in the retail industry for many years, but when the recession hit he lost his job and has nearly gone bankrupt searching for new employment.
He was told that retraining was his best option and so as part of a government funded work programme, in November 2012 Mr Barlow was sent on a course run by Alcester-based training company Bright Assessing where he was told he would receive training to be an NVQ assessor, meaning he could assess apprentices in the workplace.
However, he told the Advertiser that his experience was not a happy one.
"For me, this course was just exploitation, and all at the expense of the taxpayers," he said.
"The course wasn't anything like it should have been and shortcuts were taken all over the place."
Before he started, Mr Barlow was told that the course would take a total of 84 hours to complete but after three-and-a-half days it was already over.
"Because of the time constraints we couldn't complete all of the criteria that we were supposed to. By the end of it someone put my portfolio together because I didn't have a clue what I was doing, but I still passed. I was basically told what to say to pass.
"Another learner was sick during one of the days but just came in the next day, copied all the notes from someone else and he still passed too."
Mr Barlow is angry that despite being told there would be a great chance of finding work once the course had finished he, he is still unemployed.
"I feel cheated and ripped off and have been given a qualification that is worthless. The claims made on the company's website just weren't true."
Last year, the NCFE (formerly the Northern Council for Further Education) decided to permanently withdraw centre approval following complaints from learners, however that decision is now subject to an appeal.
Head of Sales and Marketing at Bright Assessing Nick Underwood said that the company had been in regular contact with Mr Barlow and done everything they possibly could to help support him, including offering him a second course free-of-charge.
He said he would raise the issues Mr Barlow put forward with the course tutor but while the company provides people with all the tools to find work, it makes no guarantee that they can provide people with a job.
Commenting about the NCFE's decision to withdraw centre approval he said: "The NCFE's decision is subject to an appeal and a legal review from Bright Assessing and as such I am unable to comment on this matter for legal reasons, however I will say that we vigorously dispute the findings of the NCFE's investigation and this is a matter we are taking to court."
He added that all learners who are completing an NCFE course with Bright Assessing will be found alternative awarding bodies to process any qualifications they are awarded.