The planned national helpline for adult guidance needs to be given financial beef, Scottish Enterprise claims in its response to the consultative paper published in February. There also has to be detailed work to ensure that local services are in place.
Current plans "fall short of what is required", Scottish Enterprise believes. A more far-reaching strategy would have as its core the creation of a centrally funded adult learning information service.
The work of local enterprise companies in adult guidance has increased recently but Scottish Enterprise believes that wider partnerships are needed, and the future role of LECs will have to be determined. "Central funding will be an essential element" of a national guidance strategy.
Careful planning should be undertaken by adult guidance partnerships involving schools, further education, the careers service and LECs. The partnerships would commission a "qualitative stocktake" of existing provision in order to identify gaps and carry on the work of Aegis (the Adult Education Guidance Initiative Scotland) in developing quality guidelines.
Patchy services and short-term funding have hampered progress, Scottish Enterprise states, and it is acknowledged that LECs have made "variable" provision, ranging from information-only services to a high level of guidance.
Its submission contends: "The price of the inadequate guidance service we have at present can be counted in the high drop-out rates from education and training courses and inappropriate and low levels of skill in certain sections of the Scottish labour market."
When Michael Forsyth, Secretary of State, launched the consultative paper at the European Year of Lifelong Learning conference in Edinburgh, he said that the Government would play a part in resourcing a national helpline but that money would be needed from LECs, local authorities and other agencies.