Howells orders purge on red tape

17th July 1998 at 01:00
Britain's TECs can look forward for the first time in their eight-year history. Jonathan Hunt reports from their conference

Kim Howells, the lifelong learning minister, called on training and enterprise councils to "cut out unnecessary bureaucracy" and boost performance, when he launched a consultative document on their role last week.

The departmental document accuses TECs of patchy performance, short-term thinking and of lacking accountability and focus.

But Dr Howells told the conference that the Government sees a "key role for TECs in developing skills, stimulating enterprise and helping businesses grow". He wants them to build on the "good foundations TECs have achieved and tackle the obstacles that have hampered progress".

He also wants them to ensure that good intelligence is available on the extent of the skills gap, and says it is essential that they share information with national training organisations and the Government's skills task force to share information".

The paper raises the issues of spending surpluses, alternative methods of funding wider TEC activities, simpler government auditing and how to obtain value for money.

The TEC national council welcomed the document "as a further step in clarifying and strengthening their role in developing competitiveness" - the first of the six key challenges which the Education and Employment Secretary David Blunkett sets out for them.

The other challenges are raising standards of education and training; promoting lifelong learning; moving people from welfare to work; creating a more productive and socially inclusive society and regenerating local communities.

"While TECs have a clear idea about their role at the local level, they need guidance on national priorities," said Lindsay Simpson, the national council's director of enterprise. Responses are sought by the end of September.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today