LABOUR in Scotland is committed to cut down on the num- ber of public bodies.
Inmost policy areas it struggles to fulfil that pledge, but Wendy Alexander, the Lifelong Learning Minister, will make the statistics look better if she succeeds in reducing the number of organisations loosely linked to careers.
She intends (page seven) cutting their number from 80 to 22 by next year.
The instrument will be Careers Scotland, which is inten- ded to take over not just the 17 careers service companies but also, for example, education business partnerships. In other words where there was a multiplicity oflocal initiatives, there will be national direction and co-ordination. People u adults seeking a new career path as well as youngsters u will find it easier to negotiate the labyrinth of advice.
Ms Alexander's logic cannot be faulted, founded as it ison a report from the head of personnel at Royal Mail in Scot- land, a major employer. But guidance and careers teachers will wait a while before throwing their hats in the air.
They, like the pupils they advise, would welcome greater clarity as to who provides what. But local knowledge and commit- ment must not be sacrificed.
Education business partnerships are a case in point. They work well where a group of employers and teachers share a goal. They can be over-dependent on the goodwill of one or two leaders who may move on. But if the co-operative con- cept is put into too much of a national strait-jacket, busy people may find their altruism draining away. The careers service in Scotland, though technically in the private sector, has escaped competitive tensions dogging it south of the bor- der. It will now be public but unbureaucratic.