National training organisations, which will play a key role in the reorganised post-16 sector from next year, will be overhauled in return for more funding, the government announced this week.
Some may have to be merged or closed and all will need to do more to support the needs of the employers they represent, Malcolm Wicks, the lifelong learning minister, told the NTO national council conference in London.
The 75 NTOs, which identify skills needs and set competency standards for a range of industries, will be expected to cooperate with learning and skills councils from April to help achieve post-16 education and training targets. But Mr Wicks, who announced a consultation to draft a plan for a stronger NTO network, said they would have to perform better to succeed in their new role.
From next year, he said, NTOs will get "substantial" funding to help them assess skills needs and liaise between employers and education and training providers.
But he added: "I do not believe that the improvement in skills the nation needs can be achieved with an NTO network of the current size. Nor do I believe that NTOs with limited resources and low employer support are sustainable or can make an impact on skills."