The organisation tasked with raising adult skills in the UK plans is to axe 500 jobs from its Coventry headquarters as part of a major cost-cutting drive.
The Learning and Skills Council yesterday announced 1,300 jobs are to go nationally - more than a quarter of its 4,700 workforce - in an effort to make the quango more "customer facing".
As well axing half of its Coventry workforce, a further 800 jobs will go at 47 regional offices, including six local centres in the West Midlands.
The LSC, which spends #9 billion of public money mainly in colleges, has already slashed 800 jobs over the last 18 months.
Union bosses warned the latest move would "wreak havoc" with the delivery of vocational courses and bring "disarray" to Government plans to increase skills and make Britain more competitive.
But the LSC said the cuts would save #40 million and make it a smaller, more dynamic organisation.
Chief executive Mark Haysom said: "If we are to develop a world-class workforce, able to compete in a complex global market, the further education sector in this country needs to be well-placed to respond to this challenge.
"Part of agenda for change is about the LSC changing too."
But Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union, said: "These cuts will bring devastation to the delivery of vocational courses, apprenticeships and adult learning, seriously undermining the Government's skills agenda."
The LSC was not able to say exactly where the axe will fall until the end of a three-month consultation with unions.
But a Midland spokeswoman revealed about 500 were likely to be lost at the national office in Coventry, meaning the West Midlands will be hardest hit.
The cull comes almost two years after Mr Haysom was appointed as chief executive.
During his maiden speech in Birmingham in November 2003, he claimed the organisation, formed from the merger of the Training and Education Council and the Further Education Funding Council, was "sagging at the knees" and he wanted a "new pragmatism".
One of his first reforms was to appoint nine regional heads of the LSC, which also funds sixth-forms and all post-16 education outside universities, rather than having 55 local directors across the country reporting individually to him.
In the West Midlands, David Cragg - formerly executive director of the Birmingham and Solihull branch - became director of the region's six LSC local divisions.
Yesterday Mr Cragg, who is responsible for a #1 billion budget, said: "Our priority is with informing and consulting staff at the moment.
"These are significant organisational changes. We are clear that the work we have been doing reviewing the whole of our operation is right for the medium and short term."