Few tears would be shed at the the demise of training and enterprise councils. Set up by the Conservatives as a way of shifting the responsibility for training and job creation squarely into the private sector, they always had an uneasy relationship with the colleges of further education - and sometimes revealed a disturbing lack of accountability. Much of the Blair government's shiny New Deal has had to operate through an inept and bureaucratic system.
True, some individual TECs have been successful; but others have been spectacular failures. And, in spite of havingpound;3 billion of public money to spend, the councils dismally neglected to give a national lead on training. The great advantage of a central FE body is that it could offer such a lead, pulling together a notoriously fragmented sector.
One strength of the more successful TECs, though, was their links with local labour markets. The weakness of the proposed plan is its centralising effect. While coherent planning is essential to avoid duplication and waste, a close relationship between any FE quango and the new regional development agencies will be crucial.