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People’s rights and interests come first, the Ministry of Labor safeguards training quality

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  • Last updated:2019-04-11
  • Count Views:1012

People’s rights and interests come first, the Ministry of Labor safeguards training quality Workforce Development Agency, Ministry of Labor

Have you ever found advertising flyers in your mailbox with messages such as "XX Computer School, XX Tutoring Classes for Government Courses – With Government Subsidies for Tuition Fees"? You were doubtful, weren’t you? This kind of texts sounds like a marketing trick to enroll students in cram schools. Would you believe that the government would offer this kind of benefits to the people? Well, actually the government does subsidize some classes for people to improve their skill sets and chances in the labor market. The Workforce Development Agency, Ministry of Labor (WDA) subsidizes classes and training for students, unemployed people, and working people that wish to take further training. The education, science and technology, and education ministries all offer courses to different target groups.

 

  1. The government protects the rights and interests of learners

In order to enable the public to participate in those training courses with peace of mind and enjoy training of good quality, WDA gives participating schools integrity training and pays them routine inspection visits, while also offering learners easy channels to report issues. WDA investigates schools where irregularities and violations occur, and cooperates with Prosecutors Offices to uncover any financial irregularities or quality issues that may have hurt the rights and interests of the learners.

In addition to actively handling any issues reported by participants, WDA also proactively sets out to gauge the training quality of the commissioned schools. In recent years, WDA has audited many vocational training projects and has formalized those audit activities into an audit plan. In 2016, for example, WDA first audited schools that had been reported by participants in recent years or where WDA itself had found irregularities during routine visits. It checked those training schools’ original receipts and invoices, and compared the subsidies received for their various training classes with their actual expenses, etc. WDA also paid unannounced visits to the schools, and phoned them to inquire about their teachers, teaching assistants, and learners, to see whether those numbers matched with the signed receipts. WDA also checked whether the training schools made all their subsidized books and learning materials available to their learners. It also investigated actual classroom situations: how many teachers, teaching assistants, participants, etc. All in order to actively control the quality of the vocational training offered.

All in all, WDA interviewed 2,272 learners and 141 teachers and teaching assistants in 276 classes. It paid 278 unannounced visits to 103 training schools, it audited 103 training schools, and checked the receipts of 293 courses. This way, WDA uncovered docked hourly wages of teachers, teaching assistants, and staff, as well as unqualified teachers and teaching assistants, false documents used to claim training expenses, inflated learner numbers and fake learner names, forged learners’ signatures and attendance records, learning materials that were distributed only in part or not at all, expenses claimed without underlying receipts, such as venue rental, etc. Several training schools providing job search coaching and instruction were found to have forged employment verification letter , avoided the finefor not reaching their job matching rate and claimed job coaching services subsidies by fraudulent means. The total uncovered amount ofsubsidies received without proper evidence was TWD 2,231,731.

In order to prevent training schools from harboring any thoughts of fraudulently obtaining vocational training subsidies and to strengthen the government's determination to crack down on unlawful conduct, the Office of Government Ethics within WDA cooperated with the competentunits of agencies to collect evidence and report training schools where serious fraud had occurred to the Prosecutors Office. The Agency Against Corruption, Ministry of Justice (AAC) is currently investigating one case of an industry association where subsidy irregularities occurred across its branches around the country.

 

  1. Specific approaches

To enhance auditing efficacy and continuously improve vocational training quality, prevent training schools from fraudulently obtaining government subsidies without providing all the courses as required and thus hurting the rights and interests of the learners, WDA has formulated and is implementing the following specific approaches:

  1. Offer additional education to excellent teachers

In 2017, WDA held seven training sessions titled “Integrity Training for improving Efficacy” for training school staff around the country, where outstanding accountants and prosecutors explained the rules of documentary evidence for expense claims and strengthened the legal awareness of the attending staff, in order to prevent them having illegal conduct out of ignorance. In 2018, the training program was continued.

  1. Strengthen quality control, publicize information, and improve training quality

WDA checked the lists of teachers and teaching assistants and whether the learners have actually received their books and learning materials during inspection visits. In 2017, the project manuals where expanded with a column where teachers and teaching assistants must sign off for receipt of their hourly wages.

  1. Amend regulations, increase profit elasticity, create win-win-wins

WDA revised the project plan by adding hourly cost per learner based on a proportion of the total learning material costs. The learning materials will no longer be awarded or checked by item, which gives the schools greater flexibility in buying and using learning materials that suit their learners’ needs. A win-win-win for WDA, schools and learners.

  1. Establish management and control systems within the schools

Training schools must first verify and confirm whether all their claimed expenses match with their receipts before sending their expense claims to WDA for review and approval. This raises training quality and reduces irregularities in training subsidy requests and disbursements.

  1. Use penalties and awards, apply consistent standards, to make the training more effective

The local WDA branches recover any discrepancies in amounts that audits, using unified standards, have identified. WDA supervises the recovery efforts undertaken by its local branches.

  1. Cooperate to recover unlawfully obtained subsidies

If a training school has used untruthful means to obtain training subsidies, WDA recovers those monies and apply sanctions, such as suspending the school’s right to provide training for a year. Schools that are found to have engaged in criminal conduct are reported to the Prosecutors Office for further investigation. Cases of suspected corruption will be reported to AAC to maintain good communication and reporting channels.

III. Conclusion

In addition to auditing, unlawful situations in vocational training rely on reporting by the general public to be uncovered. Therefore, WDA and AAC will continue to provide various reporting channels umimpeded for the general public, which may help achieve accurate investigation targets and create win-wins for the people and the government. Despite reporting by the general public and the discovery and sanctioning of any uncovered unlawful conduct, the government’s image will be tainted nevertheless. Therefore, the Speaker of the Executive Yuan and AAC continuously emphasize the principles of Prevention, Dedication, and Protection. To safeguard the rights and interests of the people, WDA will continue to audit training schools commissioned under the vocational training subsidy program in order to improve the schools’ internal management and control systems that enable them to identify room for improvement in their training courses and to improve deficiencies in their training and administration uncovered through audits by WDA’s local branches. This way, the people will be able to feel the government’s sincere efforts to prevent corruption and waste, its determination to protect clean government, and its dedication to people’s employment and livelihoodand further bolster people’s overall trust in their government.

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