David Hughes appointed AoC's new chief executive

Outgoing chief executive of the Learning and Work Institute tells TES that he is taking over his new role at a 'pivotal time' for colleges

Julia Belgutay

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David Hughes, chief executive of the Learning and Work Institute (pictured), is to become the new chief executive of the Association of Colleges (AoC), it has been announced.

He will take over from current chief executive Martin Doel in September, according to the AoC. Mr Doel has started his new role as the inaugural Further Education Trust for Leadership (FETL) Professorship for Further Education and Skills, based at the UCL Institute of Education, on a part-time basis, and will take up the position full-time in September.

Mr Hughes told TES that he was excited and optimistic about his new role, which he said came at a “pivotal time for colleges”. “It is a big job in an important organisation," he said. “The colleges are facing huge challenges, but also great opportunities. They are a crucial part of their local community. We need to have fantastic colleges everywhere delivering opportunities, and the chance to get involved in that and to support colleges to deliver opportunities is exciting.”

Colleges are “critically important organisations”, Mr Hughes added. “I’m looking forward to working with colleges across the country to ensure that they are able to make the maximum impact they can.”

The apprenticeship levy, which is due to be introduced next year, provides an obvious opportunity for colleges to raise additional funds and engage with more employers, he explained. “There are also some opportunities around level 3, 4, 5 and 6 loans, which have not been successful so far generally. But colleges, with support from local employers, could make those work more effectively.”

The Sainsbury review of vocational and technical education, the recommendations of which are expected to be published soon, could also offer an opportunity for colleges, he added.

'Deep commitment to FE'

Mr Hughes joined the Learning and Work Institute’s predecessor organisation Niace in 2011. Before that he spent 11 years in the further education sector, working for the Learning and Skills Council and the Skills Funding Agency. He has also worked in the voluntary sector.

Carole Stott, chair of the AoC, said she was delighted to welcome Mr Hughes at such an important time for members. “David is an experienced leader who brings a deep commitment to the further education sector," she said. “He understands the importance of the work our colleges do, the impact of this on the lives of so many people, and its importance to productivity and the national economy.”

Maggie Galliers, chair of the Learning and Work Institute, said: “David has skillfully led the institute for the last five years through a challenging and changing external environment and led the successful merger and rebrand at the start of this year. He has helped us to navigate a difficult path, as funding became more and more scarce, to remain a sustainable and successful organisation.”

Mark Dawe, chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, said: “We warmly welcome David’s appointment and we look forward to working with him in his new role.”

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