New council fails to live up to vision

4th February 2000 at 00:00
THE establishment of a Learning and Skills Council and the consolidation of separate budgets for education and training for those aged 16 and over is a welcome step that should help to radicalise services to meet individual and employer needs.

However, the Bill creating the council is disappointing. The most significant omission is the failure to transfer the vision of the White Paper into the role and purpose of the council. Learning to Succeed's vision was to secure a competitive, prosperous and inclusive society through skills and learning. If this is to be achieved, then the council must be responsive not only to the needs of individuals but also to employers and the labour market.

Th Bill should require the council to monitor and provide for emerging skill needs. Reassurance of the importance of work-based training, including modern apprenticeships, within the new arrangements would be helpful. The budgetary discretion promised at local level has also not been included in the Bill. If the reforms are to succeed, the work of the council, and that of the local councils, must be informed by the business community.

The commitment made by ministers should be incorporated into the provisions, if not within the Bill itself, then on the parliamentary record or in operational guidance to the new executive agency.

Judith Rutherford

Director, London TEC Council

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