COLLEGES should ride to the rescue when the survival of local businesses is at stake, Nigel Paine, departing chief executive of the Scottish Council for Educational Technology, says.
Professor Paine was addressing a conference run by Dunbartonshire Enterprise and Clydebank College - which itself had to be bailed out by a pound;1 million Scottish Office rescue package.
He suggested that FE principals had as much of a contribution to make to local firms in crisis as the MP or the local enterprise company. "If pledges are going to be made, financial or otherwise, the local college can make commitments that can eventually lead to the survival or not of a particular enterprise.
"Colleges should not be brought in as an after-thought. They should be at the forefront because, in the new age, a lot of the problem is upskilling people and giving them knowledge-based skills."
Hugh Walker, Clydebank's principal, said he had no problem with colleges taking a lead in economic regeneration. But Mr Walker warned: "Colleges at the moment can't make any commitment without funding and they have to break even at the end of the day. If resources are made available to fund the incoming training, we would be in there."
Professor Paine's model was the American state of Alabama where the governor won funding from Mercedes-Benz to help link 12 colleges to the company in return for guaranteeing training needs.