Tussle over vouchers

The second White Paper on competitiveness is expected to reveal Government thinking on a voucher system for post-16 education.

There is a Whitehall tussle between the Departments for Education and Employment about whether school-leavers should be issued with learning credits to cash in for their studies.

Barry Smeaton, a DFE further education support unit adviser, told the Association of Principals of Colleges annual conference last week that learning credits were "on the back-burner". But a source at the Department of Employment said his department did not share this view.

The White Paper, due to appear on Monday with input from several government departments, is said to refer to learning credits and may call for a further study or pilot scheme.

A Cabinet committee has been considering a report on learning credits by Coopers & Lybrand, commissioned after the first White Paper on competitiveness. Details have yet to be released.

* Employment and education officials met yesterday to try and resolve who is responsible for funding thousands of students who want to take extra courses with training credits.

The voucher scheme for vocational training for school-leavers has been introduced through Training and Enterprise Councils from April 1 but college principals have still not been told who will pay for part-time college courses not covered by training credits.

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