Here’s a picture of the Learning and Skills Council doing what it should do – actively getting in the face of the public with information about skills and training. The event was a Careers Advice roadshow at London Bridge station earlier this week.
Donald Clark divides government initiatives into Turtles and Fruit flies. Turtles don’t move fast, but last (Open University), Fruit Flies make a lot of noise, move around a lot and then die and are quickly forgotten. (UKeU, Individual Learning Accounts).
Which of these is the Learning and Skills Council?
At first glance the LSC, due to be disbanded in 2010, looks like a fruit fly – it has had a short life, and it will be replaced by at least two new bodies which will divide up its £11bn+ budget.
But I’m not sure that the LSC has been given enough time to become a turtle. It looks to me as if it might have been sacrificed as a way of trimming some of that budget, even though there are very good reasons for having such a massive quango.
Take just one reason – the need for a clear single place for information about training as young people mature. Here’s a quote from a recent IoD policy paper Training in the recession: winner or loser?
“With the demise of the LSC, if we employ 16, 17 and 18 year olds then any training for them will be funded from one (or several places) whilst funding for 19 year olds and above will be funded from a different place, even if they are on the same course. As a very small business I cannot afford the time or the hassle factor to do this.”
The IoD is no lover of big government, but this quote points out exactly why the LSC was created, and where it should be adding value. There is a good reason why adult education needs to be big – because, like the NHS, it is national and spans generations.
I have certainly criticized government initiatives in the past, and the LSC has not always covered itself in glory (particularly with the recent mess on the schools rebuilding programme), but that does not mean that it is the wrong institution. This is an institution that – I believe – can be fixed rather than eliminated.
LSC: turtle or fruit fly? We’ll never have the chance to find out.