Tecs to go in training overhaul

10 Jun 99
Training and Enterprise Councils face abolition in their present form, under government proposals to be published at the end of the month.

11 June 1999

A white paper setting out the future of adult training and lifelong learning is expected to propose the overhaul of post-16 education.

Intense lobbying from the Local Government Association and businesses to safeguard the local demand-led nature of training seems to have delivered results.

Now the Department for Education and Employment is expected to create a national skills and learning organisation that will oversee a network of skills-based local agencies covering careers and business-led training.

Tecs might be absorbed into this new structure, building on their close relations with local businesses.

However, these proposals have not been universally welcomed by business organisations, which argue that employers would have insufficient influence over the work of the new bodies.

The Tec national council is resigned to change. Its director of training and education, Mary Lord, said the priority was to ensure that developments were sensitive to local customers.

She said: 'While we want to get better value for money and better performance, we do want to keep that local sensitivity and focus on the particular priorities of our particular economy. That has always been the strength of Tecs.'

Set up nine years ago by the then prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, the Tecs' main role was to translate government policy on training and adapt it to the needs of local businesses. However, mounting criticism about the Tecs' lack of focus concentrated attention on their failings.

Mary Lord rejected the idea of local training needs being taken over by the newly created Regional Development Agencies. 'We are supportive of RDAs and consider them very important in terms of regional strategies but we do not think they are close enough to the market to be able to decide on training needs.'

The LGA's head of education, Neil Fletcher, said it supported the creation of a national body. He said: 'We want to see local authorities involved in planning and development of post-16 education and lifelong learning.

'We are totally committed to this approach because councils are perfectly placed to respond to the needs of their local communities.'


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