Directors in Cambridgeshire describe
the reforms for post-16 learning proposed by the government as overly
bureaucratic and confusing. The 800 members of the Eastern Branch of the
Institute of Directors believe the plans may be potentially damaging to the
David Blunkett, the Secretary of State for Education, has outlined the
government's agenda on post-16 learning in a consultation document entitled
"Learning to Succeed - A New Framework For Post-16 Learning".
The scheme involves setting up a National Learning and Skills Council (NLSC) -
replacing the Further Education Funding Council and the TEC National Council -
which would draw up a national plan for post-16 learning. This plan would then
be implemented by 50 Local Learning and Skills Councils (LLSCs) which in turn
would devise their local plans in conjunction with the Regional Development
The consultation document is, however, unclear what the relationship will be
between the LLSCs and new Local Learning Partnerships, Education Action Zones,
Education Business Partnerships and Local Education Authorities, all of which
currently have a stake in post-16 learning.
Local business leaders feel this top-down approach, along with the plethora of
agencies trying to implement learning plans, would generate an expensive paper
chase and degenerate into a bureaucratic form of centralised planning. They also
think it is unclear to what extent the LLSCs would be responsible for learning
and skills development for the post-14s - a critical age at which young people's
future employability needs to be considered.
The plans do not indicate how employer involvement will be embedded into the new
system for post-16 learning, nor how the flexibility required to delivered local
skills needs will be implemented. To this end, employers feel the new LLSCs
should have discretion over at least 15 to 20 per cent of their budgets so they
can tailor training policies to meet local needs.
In the opinion of the Institute of Directors, unless the LLSCs have genuine
freedom, employers are likely to shun the new system since they lack autonomy
and only exist to execute the NLSC's plan. Attempts to enhance the provision of
post-16 learning and training could, therefore, be jeopardised and local skills
deficiencies would not be addressed if they do not match national priorities.
The NLSC and LLSCs must have a balance of educationalists and employers - if not
a majority of the latter - as employers are best placed to know what training
and education policies are required to meet existing needs. It should then be
the responsibility of the LLSCs and NLSC to ensure there is sufficient
flexibility in the qualifications available and their delivery to meet the
nation's training requirements.
For further information contact:
Smye Holland Associates
63 Park Road
Tel: 01733 564906
Email: [email protected]
Link to The Institute of Directors