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Training to have UK base

The new national training organisations (NTOs) will be firmly employer-led and operate across the UK, the Scottish Office has confirmed.

The shake-up in training and qualifications is intended to give employers a more coherent voice in devising occupational standards, skill requirements and vocational qualifications.

The move means the number of lead bodies will be reduced dramatically from around 160 to some 75 responsible for developments in jobs sectors ranging from heating to hairdressing.

Some 59 organisations have already been recognised including the Higher Education Training Organisation which will cover the needs of universities. Discussions on a UK-wide NTO for sectors such as further education and the legal profession, which raise more contentious cross-border issues, are still taking place.

Gerry Wilson, head of the Scottish Office Education and Industry Department, assured a recent Scottish NTO conference that each of the training organisations would have "appropriate representation" from throughout the UK so Scottish interests are not overlooked. "In a Scottish context, there are perhaps even greater challenges as we work towards the establishment of the Scottish parliament," Mr Wilson said. "The message coming from most employers is that they do not wish to see separate Scottish sectoral representative bodies or separate Scottish occupational standards following devolution. "

One of the main Scottish Office objectives is to protect the position of Scottish Vocational Qualifications. Larger companies operating throughout the UK, it is feared, could opt for the English-based NVQs. Officials are determined to create NTOs "which are not English bodies with a Scottish add-on but UK bodies which represent all interests in the country".

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