05 September 2008
Town halls should be given greater control over skills spending to simplify the proposed new system and improve training, a think-tank has argued.
The New Local Government Network report, Licence to skill, published on August 29, said local authorities should be able to choose how to aggregate the commissioning of skills training on a sub-regional basis, covering 14-19 education and post-19 adult learning.
The report said plans to devolve funding responsibility for 16–19-year-olds to councils, principally through new Multi-Area Agreements, should go much further when the Learning and Skills Council is abolished in 2010.
Report author Nick Hope said: 'Power and funding should be devolved to local authorities to create a more unified, integrated and locally responsive education and skills system that better serves employers and learners.'
With regional development agencies and councils already leading skills strategies, Hope said any additional regional bodies would lack legitimacy.
'This bottom-up approach allows local authorities to be more responsive and adaptable to the geography at which the skills shortages exist and where solutions can be found.'
In the report, Hope said it was 'unreasonable' for the Young People's Learning Agency (one of two agencies to be created from the LSC) to have responsibility for regional funding while councils were charged with ensuring participation in learning.
From 2013, town halls will have a statutory duty to ensure young people have access to education – apprenticeships, diplomas, GCSEs and A-levels – up until the age of 17, and up to 18 from 2015.