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A firm hold of accountability

The company VT Plus offers training across all but three of the 47 local learning and skills councils. It had to write its plan for approval by one of the leading councils, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. Amanda Booth, its operations director, says it took about four months. It extends to more than 50 pages, but it was worth it. "It's a working document that reflects the growth and development of the company," she says. "As organisations we tend to focus on our weaknesses rather than improving our strengths."

Smaller training firms had suggested it was a "bit of a nuisance", but Ms Booth is keen to see all providers undergo the same scrutiny. "It shows that the Government is taking work-based learning seriously by ensuring that all providers take responsibility (by planning ahead) for more than a year," she says.

Graham Hoyle, chief executive of the Association of Learning Providers, says for many firms giving their strategic plans an LSC focus put them through a "learning curve" .

But there were doubts over the extent to which providers would be able to expand. "Some proposals for growth have been cut back by the LSC because it can't afford them," says Mr Hoyle.

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