TECs and VET: Getting down to Practice

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  • TECs and VET: Getting down to PracticeAuthor(s): Robert Bennett, Andrew McCoshan and John SellgrenSource: Area, Vol. 21, No. 3 (Sep., 1989), pp. 340-341Published by: The Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers)Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20002777 .Accessed: 16/06/2014 13:38

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  • 340 Conference reports

    was much that is positive happening in Belfast, and geographers have an important role to play in the city's future.

    Paul Doherty University of Ulster at Jordanstown

    TECs and VET: getting down to practice

    Report of a meeting held at the London School of Economics, 20 April 1989

    This one-day conference brought together representatives of private industry, business organis ations and the public sector from throughout Great Britain. The aim of the meeting was to discuss the development of Training and Enterprise Councils (TECs) in the field of vocational education and training (VET). It was organised by Robert Bennett, Andrew McCoshan and John Sellgren (LSE) as part of a project funded by the Leverhulme Trust on 'Business, education and economic development' in conjunction with the Industrial Activities and Area Development Study Group, and with the active support of the Association of British Chambers of Commerce (ABCC). The conference gave an opportunity for those who will have to im plement TECs to discuss the conditions for success with those closely involved with shaping policy at the national level.

    In his opening remarks as chairman, Alan Bartlett (ABCC) stressed the need to generate an endogenous local force behind each TEC, to avoid the central prescription of organisation and to provide enough scope for wholly local practice without which it is unlikely that the highest calibre business executives will be interested in TECs.

    Professor Bennett (LSE) provided an analysis of the context of existing structures within which TECs are to be launched. International comparisons were drawn with the USA and Germany, and the conclusion drawn that, once established, TECs might benefit from being put on a statutory basis. Attention was also drawn to the need to link into existing business organis ations and, with TEC expansion, into local education authorities. A number of important geographical ' holes' were identified where existing business activity and/or local authority experience is weak.

    Cay Stratton (Department ofEmployment) drew on her first hand experience ofthe operation of US Private Industry Councils (PICs) to provide important lessons for the UK. PICs have a very mixed record. Key elements for success are: the involvement of top-flight executives; use of local funds; the freedom to adapt national programmes to local needs and clear, achievable objectives.

    Continuing this theme, David Main (Training Agency) re-emphasised the need to make training more responsive to local business needs, and stressed that the government saw the personal qualities of TEC board members rather than organisation as central to TEC success. Critical too was the monitoring of TEC performance through the establishment of measurable output targets such as job placements and qualifications and the linking of funds to these goals. Targets for equal opportunities and the involvement of voluntary organisations were also important.

    In the afternoon session, Julia Cleverdon (Business in the Community) addressed the issue of how TECs might link into the wider education field. Whilst education-business partnerships are perhaps the best means of achieving this, with TECs actually stimulating their development in some areas, it is not at all clear how the two will actually interact. Many questions remain to be answered. A critical task for local communities is the identification of a sense of common ownership of partnership aims and activities.

    Brian Coldwell (Teesside Chamber of Commerce) provided an important practitioner's perspective on TECs. He pointed to the need to involve the whole community in their develop

    ment and argued that they provide the opportunity to coordinate and focus the multiplicity of VET programmes which has been needed for so long. More widely, TECs had the potential to become the channel through which local public and private resources could be targetted on achieving economic regeneration, developing a ' one stop shop'.

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  • Conference reports 341

    The speakers stimulated considerable debate amongst participants. Comments from the floor stressed the need for local flexibility in programme targets and day-to-day operation and high lighted some of the problems that TECs may encounter. Above all, however, they revealed the large area of common ground that is continuing to emerge between public and private sectors in the VET field.

    The conference was extensively reported in the national press and, despite coinciding with a one-day tube strike, 140 of the original 180 participants were able to attend. Because 50 people had to be turned away due to space limitations, it is planned to hold a follow-up meeting later in the year. Revised and shortened versions of the papers are expected to be published in the Policy

    Review Section of Regional Studies later this year. The full papers are also available as an LSE Geography Research Paper and can be obtained from that Department at a cost of ?17.00.

    Robert Bennett, Andrew McCoshan and John Sellgren London School of Economics

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    Article Contentsp. 340p. 341

    Issue Table of ContentsArea, Vol. 21, No. 3 (Sep., 1989), pp. 225-344Front MatterGuest Editorial: The Poverty of Criticism [pp. 225-228]Multinational Disinvestment: Localisation or Socialist Transformation in Zimbabwe's Manufacturing Sector? [pp. 229-235]Ethiopia: An Appeal for Journals [p. 236-236]Urban-Rural Variations in the Level of Heterosexual Activity of Young People [pp. 237-248]Airways Sanctions against South Africa [pp. 249-259]Correction to Woods and Watkins [p. 260-260]The Allotment, Landscape and Locality: Ways of Seeing Landscape and Culture [pp. 261-267]Japanese Inward Investment and the 'Importation' of Sub-Contracting Complexes: Three Case Studies [pp. 269-277]Expert System Applications in Geography [pp. 279-287]Externalisation and the Formation of New Industrial Operations: A Neglected Dimension in the Dynamics of Industrial Location [pp. 289-299]ObservationsDualistic Thinking and Rhetoric in Geography [pp. 301-305]Geographical Distribution of Cardiovascular Ill-Health and 'Risk Factors': A Small Area Analysis [pp. 306-307]Digitised Ward Boundary Data [pp. 307-313]Planning for the 1991 Census [pp. 313-315]

    Comments: Discussion Arising from Papers in "Area"Geography, Historical Geography and Heritage Studies: Some Further Reflections [pp. 316-317]Problems of Katharsis: A Reply to Porteous [pp. 318-319]Read No Further.... [pp. 319-322]

    News [pp. 323-328]Conference ReportsResearch Initiatives in Rural Geography [p. 330-330]Deindustrialisation, Local Labour Markets and Policy Measures for Industrial Renewal: Experiences from West Germany, the United Kingdom and Sweden [pp. 330-331]Skilled International Labour Migration: The British Experience [pp. 331-332]New Directions in Cultural Geography [pp. 332-334]Opencast Coal Mining: Identifying the Issues [p. 334-334]Deindustrialisation and New Industrialisation in Britain and West Germany [pp. 334-336]Appropriate Regional Development Strategies for Developing Countries [pp. 336-337]Applied Geographical Information Systems [pp. 337-338]Geographical Perspectives on the Belfast Region [pp. 338-340]TECs and VET: Getting down to Practice [pp. 340-341]

    New Appointments [p. 342-342]Research Grants [pp. 342-343]Back Matter