Muir Russell, permanent secretary at the Scottish Office, said he had decided to opt for the new structure now, although it is not clear how ministerial portfolios will be allocated after the May 6 Scottish parliamentary election. The changes would provide "a better co-ordinated and integrated service".
They represent a reversal in previous policy, heralded with the appointment in 1988 of Gerald Wilson, head of the then separate industry department, to take charge of the education department. The two departments were combined in 1995 in the hope of achieving greater co-ordination between the natural bedfellows of education, skills and training.
Responsibility for training, the new deal and the enterprise network will now pass to industry.
Mr Wilson will stay in his present post until his successors have been appointed; he is due to retire in the autumn. The head of the education department will be appointed from within the Scottish Office, but it may look to business for an industry boss.
Leader, page 16