HL Deb 10 March 1999 vol 598 cc34-5WA
Lord Winston

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they plan to make any changes to local and national arrangements to support their objectives for lifelong learning and whether there are any implications for the Training and Enterprise Councils. [HL1446]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone)

In the light of the TEC Review, the responses we have received to theLearning Age Green Paper, the FEFC Quinquennial Review and the setting-up of the new local learning partnerships, the Government propose now to undertake a wider assessment of how we can best meet the learning and skills challenge. We shall also take into account the forthcoming Moser Report on basic skills, the University for Industry Corporate Plan, the further report of the Skills Task Force, and the Social Exclusion Unit report on disaffected 16–18 year olds.

Drawing on the TEC Review, we will want to examine the local and national arrangements relating to the delivery of lifelong learning, workforce development and skills, excluding higher education. This will include consideration of new opportunities for business involvement in meeting the skills challenge.

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education and Employment has today written inviting all those concerned with this key part of the learning and skills agenda to contribute to this process, following which we intend to publish specific proposals in the summer. We will, of course, work closely with my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry as he takes forward his proposal to establish the new Small Business Service, and the Deputy Prime Minister on the role of Regional Development Agencies.

Our aim is to ensure that we have the skills required for the new century, in which knowledge, application and our capacity to learn will be crucial to both individual employability and economic success. As we set out in the Learning Age Green Paper, our goals are to: increase the number of people engaged in learning; promote excellence and quality in its delivery; ensure coherent provision of further education and work-based training; provide support for all young people in making the transition from school to further learning or employment; involve employers in the promotion of lifelong learning; ensure that provision best meets the economy's needs for skills, creativity and innovation; make the most effective use of resources; and meet our National Learning Targets.

In the meantime, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education and Employment is also today announcing some changes to the operation of TECs, arising from the first phase of the TEC Review. These will strengthen partnership and accountability, improve the quality of work-based training, and streamline contracting arrangements.