RADICAL plans to reform post-16 education and training will form a central part of the Labour manifesto for elections to the new National Assembly for Wales next month.
The new agenda - abolishing the Further Education Funding Council for Wales and training and enterprise councils - was unveiled this week by Welsh education minister Peter Hain.
Mr Hain, who chaired the 15-member Education and Training Action Group (ETAG) which drew up the agenda, suggested that it may resonate beyond Wales. "A lot of people in England are watching it with great interest," he said.
Under the agenda, the FEFCW and TECs would be subsumed in more broadly-based bodies. A National Council for Education and Training in Wales would be underpinned by Community Consortia for Education and Training.
The NCET would retain the FEFCW's joint secretariat and close working relationship with the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales. The report also calls for a national credit-based qualification and quality assurance network, and the creation of Careers Wales, an all-age advice and guidance service.
Mr Hain said: "The status quo for post-16 education and training is unacceptable. That is an agenda for Wales to chug along complacently, falling behind the rest of the world."
The report was welcomed by Fforwm, representing Welsh further education colleges, as "a brave new approach to post-16 education and training which will deliver real improvement". Fforwm chief executive Mike Jones said the report was "about widening the choices for post-16 students, not narrowing them".
John Andrews, chief executive of the Welsh Funding Councils, welcomed the report but warned: "It will take a lot of careful consultation to ensure that the new structures work well and take everyone with them."