Manufacturers in the West Midlands have called for clarification on the position of regional development agencies.

Firms want to know what role RDAs will take in relation to the new skills body, the Skills Funding Authority (SFA), which is due to replace the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) this year.

Previously, the Government had indicated that RDAs such as AWM would take on a new role in planning skills strategies in their region, funded by the SFA. 

However, EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation now understands that regional LSC staff are simply being moved to undertake this function and in many cases their job specifications have not been changed.

EEF had welcomed the setting up of the SFA as a promising initiative that would help in the creation of a flexible demand-led system when the government indicated the new body would be ‘slimmer, faster and more responsive’ than its predecessor.

 In a letter to Kevin Brennan MP, minister for further education and skills, EEF have also raised questions over the leadership of the new skills body after it was revealed that the SFA’s management team will be made up of the current acting chief executive of the LSC and eight board members who are all currently directors of the LSC.

Martin Wassell, EEF’s regional director in the Midlands, said: “The upheaval involved in moving to the new structure is in itself unsettling and potentially confusing for employers. For it to be worthwhile, the new arrangements need to provide real improvements on the existing model.

“A properly demand-led system will require a change in culture at all levels from what has gone before. 

“An organisational reshuffle which results in many of the same people undertaking the same roles under new titles would be the worst of all worlds.”