Policy papers launched at the training and enterprise councils' national conference in Birmingham highlight deep flaws in the effectiveness of current programmes.
One, Skilling the Unemployed, criticises the benefits system, which it says "rewards passivity".
The document, drawn up by the TEC national council and being circulated to TECs for consultation , points to "insufficient opportunity for meaningful work experience which unemployed people say they want".
The paper calls for more integrated budgets for programmes designed to help the unemployed and a review of benefit rules. More "real job opportunities" are needed, including skills training.
A paper on foundation learning for 14 to 24-year-olds calls for common performance measures, quality assurance, inspection systems and common funding to allow TEC-funded training to be compared with colleges and schools.
The papers, along with others on lifetime learning and the role of the business community in economic development, represent the highest-profile attempt yet by TECs to set a training policy agenda.
The conference also saw the launch of a TEC and TUC agreement to promote joint action on workplace training.