A new Quality Mark award for colleges that do excellent work with employers has been proposed by the Learning and Skills Council.
Plans to create a network of quality-marked colleges that "put employers at the heart of their business" were unveiled this week in a prospectus that proposes to transform further education.
Colleges in the network will meet a tough new national standard for working with business that will be jointly developed by employers and colleges".
Quality Marks will be awarded by independent panels, chaired by employers, following a "robust but streamlined" assessment.
The proposal was put forward this week by the LSC in its Agenda for Change prospectus, developed after a year-long consultation with more than 100 senior college staff.
The LSC expects colleges that are already centres of vocational excellence or have Action for Business status to be early recipients of the award, which will help employers know which colleges have the specialist support and training services they need.
It is hoped that employers will choose marked colleges and training organisations as suppliers of workforce development services through the National Employer Training Pilots.
Rob Wye, the LSC's strategy director, said no target has been set for the number of colleges to attain the standard, and not every college will be seeking the mark.
"There are colleges that see themselves focusing on community and outreach work rather than working with employers," he said. "Sixth form colleges aren't in this business either."