Training and Enterprise Councils are failing local graduates and employers by not providing sufficient support for high-level skills training, according to a report by leading employment experts.
In TECs and Higher Level Skills, produced by the Host Consultancy, which carries out research for Government departments as well as TECs and Industry Training Organisations, TECs are shown to have been "patchy" in developing graduate initiatives, and more concerned that courses be available than that anyone is doing them.
The report says that TECs should forge links with higher education institutions because they are a source of highly skilled people, a magnet for inward investors, and a shop window on the locality.
But only a few TECs have developed an innovative approach in what is dubbed the "HLS" area. Alan Gordon, co-author of the report, said: "The overriding theme of TEC initiatives in developing HLS is the diversity and volatility of response."
At their best, TECs are supporting graduates imaginatively: offering supplementary funding for students, co-funding enhanced provision of higher level courses, encouraging students to attend local institutions and improving access to higher level courses for non-traditional students.
But too many - around half according to one survey - have no policy in place to support HLS, although a quarter of TECs have no higher institutions in their region.
Dr Gordon said: "TEC innovation had been patchy and highly vulnerable to changes in local and national funding policy."
TECs and Higher Level Skills by Alan Gordon and David Parsons. Available from The HOST Consultancy, PO Box 144, Horsham, West Sussex, RH12 1YS. Price: Pounds 15