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More money for learning but less output-related funding for providers


The arrival of the Learning and Skills Council for proper next April will mean more money for learning but reduced levels of output-related funding, standard contracts for audit, health and safety, payment and funding systems throughout England, opportunities for longer contracts, greater scope for collaboration with FE, longer lead times for agreeing plans and budgets and an increasing emphasis on relationships with the Employment Service.

This was the message given to training providers by Jacqui Henderson, Chief Executive, TEC National Council at the conference entitled "The Learning & Skills Council: 100 days to go" organised by TEN, the Training and Employment Network in London last week.

Delegates at the conference also heard Henderson identify some of the key challenges for the incoming Council: increasing the number of learners and overall skills of the workforce, driving up IT skills, addressing the need for 'basic' and employability skills and targeting businesses who do not train. She also spoke about the key aims of the LSC and how local LSCs will operate - i.e. by identifying local skill needs, agreeing budgets and plans with providers and consulting with RDAs, LAs, learning partnerships and others.

Where funding is concerned, the key is that there will be no long contracting chains, with local decisions taken on allocations and mix of funding. Customer focus was also identified as a key factor - "funding should follow the learner" - and Henderson also stressed the importance of the 'system responding to the customers'. Henderson sees there being significant benefits in the new arrangements for customers and many providers, and wants all "good training providers" to be involved in the new arrangements, but stresses that communication and dialogue essential for this to happen.

In terms of a transition period, local LSC Executive Directors will inherit a draft analysis of fundable provision for 2001-2002 and a plan for who does what. The aim for contracts for 2001-2002 to be signed in February 2001.

An introductory presentation at the conference by Paul Convery, Director, Unemployment Unit and Youthaid, London, highlighted the skills shortage as a key issue for the new Council, quoting statistics that show nearly three-quarters of all employers are currently facing recruitment difficulties, even though there are 1.3 million job vacancies. In attempting to offer solutions to the problems, Convery highlighted the fact that the previous three separate systems "did not work well" and the need for the new Council to hone a 'sharper strategic perspective' encourage participation in learning, through building partnerships at regional and national levels. He also suggested ways of boosting economic performance and raising standards.

Among the other speakers, Karen Adriannse of ALIS spoke about the Common Inspection Framework and remit of the new ALI, with its key role being to discover "How effective and efficient is the provision of education and training in meeting the needs of the learners and why?". Bill Blakey of the Department for Education and Employment also outlined a framework for practitioner skills.

All the presentations can be viewed in PowerPoint or Word format at


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