More change for Apprenticeships after Cabinet Reshuffle
In a week when we were ‘merely’ expecting the delayed update on the Apprenticeship Levy, we’ve instead had a change of Prime Minister, the resignation of the Skills Minister and today the appointment of a new Education Minister to head up a revamped DfE that will now be responsible for Apprenticeships, says Paddy Patterson of Maverish Ltd and founder of Oxfordshire Apprenticeships. Just in case there was any chance of us catching our post-Brexit breath….
Justine Greening MP is new Education Minister
Ms Greening previously held Treasury and Transport posts and most recently was Secretary of State for International Development. Much will be made of her becoming the first Education Secretary with a comprehensive school background (quite a big schools ‘in tray’ waiting for her) and she herself has talked many times about her working class roots in South Yorkshire, so we should probably expect to see ‘inclusion’ and ‘social mobility’ feature in her priorities. In a speech back in February she talked about the importance of Apprenticeships and the need to find the “rough diamonds” that sometimes are overlooked by the education system. Assuming the 2020 3 million target is still in place, then mining those diamonds will be more necessary than ever. Of course Ms Greening is now in the very best position possible to make sure that happens.
In terms of businesses, again taking recent comments, we should be encouraged. In the same speech quoted above she mentioned employers, saying that “they have got to recognise that fundamentally our economy won’t survive if we don’t have great talented young people coming through, but then we want all that investment that we put into education to fundamentally get business bang for their buck, and that’s where they come in.” Speaking of “their buck”, it will be interesting to how or if Levy plans are affected in any way.
All under one roof again
In a move that many are already applauding, Apprenticeships (along with Skills, Higher Education and Further Education) moves to the DfE and puts an end to a division of responsibility for education between departments based on age lines. I was with the Learning & Skills Council when it was all split up, it didn’t feel neat then and it hasn’t ever done since. One may view the more recent collaboration between Education Funding Agency (EFA) and Skills Funding Agency (SFA) as pointing towards an inevitable ‘coming together’ or it may be simply coincidence that a new broom has swept in this change. Either way, it is a big but positive step.
Downing Street has said that relevant civil servants will transfer from BIS to DfE as part of a change designed to allow Ms Greening to "take a comprehensive, end-to-end view of skills and education, supporting people from early years through to postgraduate study and work". And on Apprenticeships specifically, the same official release also said the DfE would “take on responsibility for… delivering more Apprenticeships through a fundamental change in the UK’s approach to skills in the workplace.”
So, departmental shuffling aside, business as usual for Apprenticeships then? Let’s wait for that Levy update, shall we?