THE FUTURE of Training and Enterprise Councils was thrown into doubt this week as the Government announced yet another review of their operation.
In a post-budget announcement David Blunkett, Secretary of State for Education and Employment, said he wanted to "build on" the earlier review of TECs to consider learning and training options alongside the development of a Small Business Service.
Shortly after being elected the Government said it wanted to carry out an "urgent" examination of TECs' cost and effectiveness. The target date for that review's completion has been extended many times, with ministers saying they had been overwhelmed by the 700 responses received.
Mr Blunkett called the new review, to be published this summer, a "wider assessment". It would take into account the Moser report on basic skills, the University for Industry corporate plan, the Skills Task Force report and the Social Exclusion Unit's study on disaffected 16 to 18-year-olds.
"Drawing on the TEC review we will want to examine the local and national arrangements relating to the delivery of lifelong learning, workforce development and skills, excluding higher education," he said.
In a letter to all TECs this week Mr Blunkett spelled out some changes he wanted to make. It is known that ministers have changed their minds several times on what they wanted to see happen to the TECs.
The main need, said Mr Blunkett, is for stronger guidelines to restrict the level surpluses that TECs can build up.
Despite great strides in accountability the minister said there should also be a new complaints system to provide effective feedback on any problems in training, so that quick and decisive action could be taken. This new sanction touches on problems TECs have had with misuse of public funds.