McLeish's 'learning revolution' targets enterprise companies

25th February 2000 at 00:00
SCOTLAND now has at least six separate inquiries in progress with implications for training.

Henry McLeish, Enterprise and Lifelong Learning Minister, announced the latest last week - a review of Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise and their 22 local enterprise companies, a pound;500 million operation.

Part of the purpose, Mr McLeish said, was to meet "the challenge of turning Scotland into a knowledge economy and unleashing a learning revolution".

The review sits alongside the investigation into local economic development and training being conducted by the Parliament's enterprise and lifelong learning committee. Its report, critical of overlap and duplication of services, is expected in April.

Robert Crawford, the new chief executive of Scottish Enterprise, has also announced his own six-week inquiry into its operations. Mr Crawford said education was one activity which could be "digitised and distributed globally".

These developments follow the separate Government proposals on education and training for 16-19s, for adults and for those with special educational needs.

Mr McLeish saidhe had "no preconceived ideas" about what should emerge from the inquiry into the enterprise networks. "I am prepared for serious change if it is merited," he said. But he cautioned against moves that would lead to unnecessary disruption.

The review, which will continue until May, will be an opportunity for FE colleges to air their ongoing grievances with the local enterprise companies. Establishing the boundaries between the LECs and others on lifelong learning is one of the issues highlighted in the consultation paper.

The paper commends the breadth of functions of the enterprise network linking economic development to training and skills support. But it adds that "there is a balance to be struck between breadth and focus".

The paper notes without comment the radical changes in England where training and enterprise councils are to be swept away by a new learning and skills agency, with local outposts, which will also absorb the English FE funding council.

The Executive has appointed eight business experts to provide advice on the enterprise network review. None has a specialist training background.

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