LSC looks to be lighter on its feet

30th January 2004 at 00:00
Barely through his first 100 days as chief executive, Mark Haysom has wasted no time making radical changes to the Learning and Skills Council.

Within four weeks, he announced plans for a regional structure, which was up and running with astonishing speed. And earlier this month he transformed the national office, slimming down the directorate.

"I am trying to create a new body, the like of which the public sector has never seen before," says the former Trinity Mirror national newspaper director. "The LSC must be lighter on its feet, much faster, more responsive and much more customer-focused. We must move away from being perceived as an organisation that manages the supply side to one that understands and meets demand."

The council has joint responsibility with the Standards Unit at the Department for Education and Skills for seeing through the vast array of initiatives under Success for All. Mr Haysom's single purpose is to drive reforms forward, focusing only on what the council is charged with completing.

"We have to be clear about what we are doing and not duplicate efforts of other organisations," he says. "It is how the pieces of the jigsaw fit together at national and local levels that will count."

The council will not venture into areas of work that are in the remit of the Standards Unit, such as the promotion of better leadership and development of new learning materials, he insists.

"At national level, we have an excellent working relationship with the unit and understand that our job is to plan, fund and promote the sector."

The new leaner management structure is Phase One of LSC reform, he says.

"It helps us manage more effectively, devolving a lot of the activity from the Coventry HQ and helps us make decisions closer to where the action is."

This means that many lecturers and trainers on the ground will find changes coming more rapidly than they might have expected.

"But they will be ready for them," he insists.

Take, for example, the centrepiece of change - the strategic area reviews which aim to get colleges and private training providers collaborating in the best interests of students and apprentices.

There will be no waiting around for everyone else, he says, adding: "When each area is ready to go, it will get the go-ahead.

"Birmingham and Northampton are good examples of areas where colleges are already working closely with schools and are also much more employer-focused than other areas. We are already seeing reforms moving ahead quickly."

Coming from newspapers, Mr Haysom has considerable experience of organisations in which things move quickly and have complex internal relations. He knows that success comes only through good leadership and only where everyone "at every level" focuses on clearly defined tasks.

His message to staff? "Please stop doing what you are not supposed to be doing and bring some alignment to the activities around Success for All."

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