FE and skills is being brought back into the remit of the Department for Education, the government has confirmed.
It was announced this morning that Justine Greening is the new education secretary, and that her remit will be expanded to cover skills and higher education.
Until today’s announcement, FE had effectively been split between the DfE and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, with the former responsible for education up to the age of 18, and 19-plus provision under the remit of Bis. As a result, skills ministers have found themselves working across the two departments.
But the new move will see all education, from early years up to university, under the umbrella of the DfE.
'A positive move'
David Hughes, chief executive of the Learning and Work Institute, said: “We recognise the opportunities created by bringing together FE, skills and apprenticeships with schools and early learning. Joining these areas up can create a more coherent and seamless approach to lifelong learning, with real advantage for students, learners and apprentices. I am looking forward to supporting the new minister and her team to realise those benefits.
“It is essential however that FE and skills are not overlooked with the many challenges that schools, early education and higher education present. Working with the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP), the Association of Colleges (AoC) and other partners we will make sure that these areas remain high on the agenda as further education and skills have never been so important in the current climate of uncertainty.”
The move was welcomed by Mark Dawe, AELP chief executive.
“Having apprenticeships and traineeships under one roof could be a very positive move,” he said. “It will give us a chance to properly pull together the Sainsbury Review and apprenticeship strategy. We might see finally see the creation of an all-age careers service in England too. We look forward to hearing Ms Greening set out her stall and welcoming her to her new post.”
Martin Doel, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said: “The move to incorporate skills into the DfE must not be allowed to preface any loss of focus on technical education as embodied in the recently released post-16 skills plan. Links with industry that were firmly established in Bis need to be preserved and built upon in the transfer of departments. The distinctive contribution of colleges as autonomous institutions needs also to be recognised and promoted – they are not the same as big schools.”
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