Skills plan omits role for employers

Plans to give schoolchildren under 16 the opportunity to
gain vocational qualifications have met with criticism from a government-backed
training organisation.

The NTO National Council, which will oversee post-16
education from April, said the plans do not outline a clear role for future

Education Secretary David Blunkett wants to create
vocational GCSEs for 14- to 16-year-olds to encourage them to take
apprenticeships. The Government hopes to introduce 40,000 part-time
apprenticeships by 2003.

The Government has promised to spend £38m on the initiative.

NTO chief executive Andy Powell said, "The very fact
that this announcement did not involve or set out a role for employers working
through NTOs demonstrates how far we have to go to shift the rhetoric of
Whitehall to the reality of the workplace.

"Good ideas depend upon the commitment of others ñ in
this case teachers and employers ñ to make them happen."

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