Coke boss puts fizz in council

8th December 2000 at 00:00
CHRIS Banks pours himself a glass of you-know-what. "I'm quite sure I would recognise our product if you put it to the test," he says. He is more coy about whether he can explain further education funding methodology.

As managing director of Coca-Cola Great Britain since 1997, Banks runs what is essentially a marketing operation with 100 staff in Uxbridge, Middlesex. The manufacture and bottling is carried out by Coca-Cola Enterprises, a separate company.

His new position, as chairman of the young people's learning committee of the new Learning and Skills Council, will involve him in setting the agenda for younger learners aged 16-18. It will also bring him bring him into regular contact with John Monks, TUC general secretary, who chairs the adult learning committee.

He sees himself as a man who can bring organisational rigour to the new council, which will replace the Furthe Education Funding Council. However, while he has broad objectives in mind, he does not pretend to know how they will be achieved.

Like John Harwood, the LSC's chief executive, he avoids speculating about how exactly the organisation will deliver its post-16 agenda. "The important thing is that I will have the luxury of being surrounded by people who are experts," he says. "My job is to chair the committee and I'm very conscious of the fact that's what it is - a chairman's role.

"But I am positive that we need to balance the needs of learners with those of business.

"On the young people's committee, it will be a priority to make sure people carry on learning post-16. I don't fully understand the funding methodology in detail but I agree that we need a system which is much simpler.

"We need to have clear, simple objectives and a clear means of achieving them."

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