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Employers should be given almost total control over the national skills budget and the design of vocational courses that are paid for by state money, the Leitch Review recommended on Tuesday.

The Treasury-commissioned report on the country’s skill requirements said all publicly funded, adult vocational skills in England should go through “demand-led” routes that will put businesses in the driving seat.

The switch would mean funding would be channelled through a greatly expanded ‘Train to Gain’ scheme, which employers would use to access funding,

The move would greatly reduce the role of the Learning and Skills Council, the £11bn quango currently largely responsible for planning adult skills training.

Lord (Sandy) Leitch, the former chief executive of Zurich Financial Services, also called for a significant strengthening of the powers of the Sector Skills Councils, the employer-led bodies charged with ensuring a significant flow of skilled workers charged with filling vacancies in particular industries.

Under the plans, the power to approve new courses would be stripped from the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority and handed to the SSCs.

They would also be ale to approve qualifications developed by employers.

Only those approved by SSCs should qualify for public funding, the report said.

Lord Leitch said skills at all levels – from those lacking basic literacy and numeracy to degree level – by 2020 if the UK is to be competitive.

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