But Gillian Shephard, Secretary of State for Employment, also told the employer-led Training and Enterprise Councils that they must improve their performance in administering the youth training scheme for jobless school leavers and the Employment Training programme for unemployed adults.
Mrs Shephard also urged TECs to give greater impetus to the Investors in People scheme in which companies attempt to meet high standards.
Speaking to the annual conference of TEC board members in Birmingham, Mrs Shephard said that although she would fight hard in the negotiations with the Treasury over public spending, TEC boards would have to be realistic. The scheme's budget is more than pounds 2bn. She said she would give the boards greater flexibility to spend the money and that budgets would increasingly be tied to the number of qualifications they succeeded in delivering, rather than places provided.
Mrs Shephard also foreshadowed a shake-up of the ET programme by establishing a working group that could result in its amalgamation with the Employment Action scheme, which gives temporary work but no training.
She said that the guarantee of a YT place for unemployed school leavers must be the top priority. Labour Party leaders have claimed that 50,000 failed to win places.
Mrs Shephard said: 'I suggest a key task is to raise performance to bring the rest up to the level of the best and to ensure our best continuously improve.'
She set out her vision for the future of both TECs in England and Wales and Local Enterprise Companies in Scotland. She said there should be a 'strategic and powerful alliance' between industry and government.
The Government and TECs shared a common vision. 'What we are about is local economic development and building a world-class workforce in each and every community.'
It was essential that the TECs achieved the national education and training targets so that Britain achieved a world-class workforce.
'I shall expect each and every TEC in its business plan to set out clearly how it intends to secure the targets . . . and measurable stages by which it plans that the targets will be reached.'
The Government's Investors in People initiative, whereby companies applied to TECs for a 'kitemark', should also be one of the top priorities. She said that the programme should be 'accelerated' to give it extra momentum.
Mrs Shephard emphasised the partnership needed. 'Neither of us can succeed without the other. We have it in us to transform local communities in this country, to transform attitudes, the potential and performance of the workforce, to transform opportunities for individuals, young and old alike. But we need each other.'Reuse content