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Training And Enterprise Councils

Volume 180: debated on Tuesday 13 November 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what is the value of the present level of training and enterprise support given by his Department to companies in Lancashire; and if he will make a statement.

My Department is contributing some £39 million towards training and enterprise activities in Lancashire in 1990–91.Training and enterprise councils (TECs) are currently being established to play a major role at local level in stimulating the high skill, high productivity economy we need and to take over responsibility for training and enterprise activities in their locality. The TEC covering East Lancashire (ELTEC) has been operational since April 1990 and the TEC covering West Lancashire (LAWTEC) is due to become operational in April 1991.

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make available the list of board members from any additional training and enterprise councils which have signed operational contracts.

Fourty one TECs are now fully operational. I have arranged for an updated list of board members covering these TECs to be placed in the House of Commons Library.

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what are the implications of the Chancellor's autumn statement for the Government's policies on training and enterprise.

I recently published "1990s: the Skills Decade" which sets out strategic guidance for all involved in promoting the acquisition of skills and the development of enterprise in this country. The Chancellor's autumn statement provides the framework for this strategic guidance to be put into effect.My strategic guidance places particular emphasis on the major role that training and enterprise councils (TECs) have in stimulating the high skill, high productivity economy we need. I have been greatly encouraged by the response we have had from the country's top business leaders in joining and leading the TECs and at their request I am making a number of changes to funding arrangements for 1991–92 to allow TECs much greater discretion in tailoring programmes to meet local needs.First, more payments to TECs will depend on helping people to get jobs and qualifications through training rather than simply the time that they spend on programmes. At least 25 per cent. of TECs' funding for youth training (YT) and employment training (ET) will be dependent on results in terms of jobs and qualifications that are achieved. This will mean that many of the remaining rules for YT and ET will be removed. For example there will no longer be any limit on the maximum duration of training on ET. But priority will still be given to those in the guarantee and aim groups.Secondly, the budgets for business and enterprise training and for the enterprise allowance scheme (EAS) which were previously separate will be merged to become one budget and TECs will be free to decide their relative priorities, subject to ensuring that a reasonable level of provision for EAS is maintained and guarantees to unemployed people are met. TECs will also have considerable discretion over the way they organise and fund EAS in their local areas and how participation might be linked to related training or business assistance.Thirdly, TECs are being given a major new responsibility in work-related further education (WRFE). They will assume responsibility from 1 April for the WRFE budget that is currently managed by the Employment Department, amounting to over £105 millions. These funds will still be spent within the local education authority further education system. This will complement TECs' existing role in youth training and help ensure that college provision is more responsive to employment needs at local level.I also plan to give TECs a wider role in education in other ways. TECs are being given a powerful voice in the continued development of the technical and vocational education initiative (TVEI) at local level and local education authorities will be required to consult TECs when they draw up their plans.TECs will also be able to bid, as part of their business plans for 1991–92, for additional resources to launch or extend education business partnerships.Finally, Her Majesty's senior chief inspector of schools has agreed that where HMI inspections largely or wholly focus on TEC-funded provision, HMI will jointly report back their findings to the relevant TEC and local education authority.

This represents a significant widening of responsibilities and increase in discretion for TECs. I am confident that these changes will greatly increase TECs, ability to respond quickly and effectively to local needs in their area and to ensure that education and training meet employers' needs. Overall, the public expenditure settlement ensures that my Department has the resources it needs, and the means to deploy them effectively, so as to improve the skills of the workforce, help small businesses and enterprise and get unemployed people back to work.