31 October 2012
Association of Colleges’ chief executive, Martin Doel, said: “Lord Heseltine’s report makes some interesting points that could have implications for the skills sector and how colleges are able to support local and wider economic growth.
“We very much agree that growth needs to be at the forefront of Government activity, but we do not want to see added layers of bureaucracy brought in that could actually hinder college responsiveness.
“Suggestions that money should be handed directly to local authorities who would then distribute it would add extra complication to an already intricate funding system. Any disassembly of the Skills Funding Agency could lead to even more labyrinthine structures. This would be yet more change for the sake of it.
“Lord Heseltine’s report also puts Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP) in the spotlight as a means of generating local growth but recognises that many of the 39 such partnerships are under-developed and not performing well. He claims they currently do not have the ‘authority’ or ‘resource’ to transform their locality.
“We are not convinced that LEPs are currently capable of taking on an enhanced role in relation to skills provision . In our members’ experience these bodies are often constrained by local rivalries, engage businesses only inconsistently and are over-focused on transport. Much of our own research shows that, with a few notable exceptions, LEPs almost completely ignore education and training in their area, which will hamper the growth agenda.
“We will wait and see what action is taken by Government in light of this report and stand ready to contribute to the debate on the way ahead. Even more importantly colleges stand ready to contribute still further to economic regeneration and growth.”
Note - AoC's latest research into LEPs can be found on the website