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Cut out the talk and get on with it

THE growing bureaucracy involved in special needs training must be addressed if social inclusion initiatives are to be effective.

Speaking at a conference in Glasgow of the Support Training Action Group (STAG), Ian McGhee, head of the Transition to Work division of the Scottish Executive, said that people should spend more time on the concerns of the clients and less time talking to other bureaucrats.

"There is a genuine concern that the number of partnerships that bodies can be involved in is becoming very large, resulting in a drain on the time of those involved simply in keeping up the partnerships," Mr McGhee said. "There is a prima facie case for looking to see if the process can be streamlined so that less time is spent at meetings and more on actually serving the client."

Mr McGhee, standing in for Henry McLeish, Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning, said that an announcement on the Beattie report on post-16 education and training was due in the next few weeks, with full implementation likely by April next year, although "there is a potential for slippage".

He stressed that the report "was not happening in a vacuum" and had to be considered in the light of other related developments such as the reviews of the careers service, learning disabilities, local eonomic development and local learning partnerships.

Stuart Gulliver, chief executive of the Glasgow Development Agency (to be renamed Scottish Enterprise Glasgow), said inclusion is now a mainstream goal for the enterprise network. But enterprise companies should "play to their strengths" and focus on exclusion from the labour market.

Mr Gulliver, who leaves his post shortly to join Glasgow University, said:

"There is a bit of concern with the word 'social'. The enterprise network has always felt that social concerns are the concerns of other organisations, and there are plenty of them.

"We don't want to dissipate our effort. We are talking about an economic agency having a direct responsibility for doing something about people who are not getting easy access to the labour market. We are creating jobs, but there is a whole set of people in Scotland who are just not getting them."

Frank Pignatelli, chief executive of the Scottish University for Industry and former head of Scottish Business in the Community, praised the role of local business support groups in promoting social inclusion, education and training and creating jobs in the context of local communities:

"The message is that business excellence equals community excellence," Mr Pignatelli said.

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