The creation of a single body responsible for post-16 training has passed its first formal hurdle.
The new lifelong learning sector skills council has drawn up a proposals which pave the way for it to take on responsibility for further education, universities and work-based training.
The document has been submitted to the Sector Skills Development Agency, which will seek views on the proposal from the four home nations - each of which can veto the creation of the lifelong learning SSC.
SSCs are being formed across all industry sectors - from engineering to policing - to set training standards and act as the employers' voice.
Between 20 and 30 councils are expected to be set up to replace the 72 national training organisations.
Jonathan Mackey, seconded from the Department for Education and Skills standards unit to liaise over the creation of the SSC, said the "first milestone" towards its creation had been passed.
He said: "What we have done, by submitting our expression of interest, is to put the business case, and set out our total commitment to building an organisation. Everyone involved agrees what its responsibilities will be."
After the four nations and other organisations have been consulted, the SSDA will decide whether to allow the project to go into the development stage - which attracts funding for up to six months while the details of the proposed SSC are worked out.
Mr Mackey said it is hoped that the SSDA will be in a position to approve the start of this stage at its board meeting on January 21, 2004.
Charles Clarke, the Education Secretary, would then be asked to grant it a licence.
The four national training organisations behind the SSC are the Further Education National Training Organisation, the Higher Education Staff Development Agency, Paulo, representing youth and community work, and the Employment NTO.
FENTO and HESDA both plan to take five seats on the board of the lifelong learning SSC.