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Get together or else warning;Further Education

ALTHOUGH the need for a shake up to bridge the divisions and duplications of post-16 education and training is felt to be much less pressing in Scotland, there is growing support for greater integration.

Henry McLeish, the Enterprise and Lifelong Learning Minister, recently warned the local enterprise companies (rough equivalents of the outgoing English TECs) that they must "co-operate as never before", with each other and with other organisations, not only on economic matters but on promoting learning and skills.

Mr McLeish may decide to await the outcome of the Parliament's current inquiry into local economic development and training, due to report next Easter, before considering whether any root-and-branch reforms are required in Scotland.

But there is dissatisfaction from both the enterprise companies and the colleges with the present system. Ian McLachlan, director of company development at Fife Enterprise, believes that attempts to streamline education and work-based training will remain hamstrung for as long as there are separate sources of funding.

Mike Webster, vice-chairman of the Association of Scottish Colleges, believes an investigation of the role of the LECs in training is long overdue. He suggests colleges could do much more LEC-supported training if it was not diverted elsewhere.

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