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Business 'TEC-over' of skills councils

COLLEGE principals and others in further education are angry that so many top jobs in the new learning and skills councils have gone to business-orientated training and enterprise council people.

Of 45 appointments to local LSCs, 17 went to people in executive posts on the soon-to-be-abolished TECs. Three went to people in TEC-related groups and two more posts are due to be filled. As The TES went to press, Vic Seddon, principal of Croydon College, was being interviewed for the south London job.

Four of the new executive directors are college principals, seven are from local authorities, and seven from the civil service, mainly the Department for Education and Employment. Only one regional director from the Further Education Funding Council got in, though several applied. Some were not even short-listed.

One regional University for Industry head gets a post, and one headteacher. Others are in business or careers service, or consultants. Mick Farley, once at lecturers' union NATFHE, now a careers chief executive, gets a job.

"It is a TEC-over" said one principal. "We always knew there would be strong business involvement, but this is beyond belief."

The fact that 23 of the 47 chairs of the new councils have had TEC experience also worries the sector.

The 47 councils will handle planning and funding of all sixth forms, colleges and training up to higher education in England. They replace theFEFC and the training element of the TECs.

At the head of the structure is the national learning and skills council, chaired by Bryan Sanderson, group managing director of BP Amoco. It will have a budget of pound;6 billion for 6 million learners.

In the East of England, Yorkshire and Humberside, almost all the jobs have gone to TEC people.

John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, said: "I am extremely disappointed that so many posts have gone to the TECs, and so few to leaders in schools and colleges. This is TECs under another name."

"I think there is genuine concern about what these appointments say about the role of colleges in the brave new world," said a principal. "What worries me is whether they will be able to do it on the ground."

Nadine Cartner, for the Association of College Management, said: "We would hope that the sector will be well represented in future partnerships." But John Brennan, of the Association of Colleges, said: "It will be important to create a new culture so that no one is carrying baggage from the past."

Paul Mackney, general secretary of NATFHE, said: "We are not convinced that the business world has all the answers."

The executive directors were appointed by John Harwood, chief executive of the LSC and endorsed by the Secretary of State.

The full-time, four-year postiions carry salaries of pound;51,975 to pound;85,047 a year.

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