The government not have the infrastructure or capacity to successfully implement the recommendations of the Sainsbury review, according to the Association of Colleges’ chief executive David Hughes.
Speaking today at Pearson College in London as part of thinktank Policy Exchange’s conference on further and higher education, Mr Hughes (pictured) said he couldn't see how the changes could be introduced when the organisation responsible for many of them – the Institute for Apprenticeships – "doesn't yet exist". He also warned that the practicalities of exiting the European Union could distract the government from implementing the overhaul of post-16 education.
According to the Post-16 Skills Plan published alongside the review of post-16 education, the new Institute for Apprenticeships will see its remit expanded to encompass "all of technical education at levels 2 to 5". It will be responsible for bringing together expert groups to set the content and standards for each of the 15 new progression routes.
Hr Hughes told today's conference: "It’s giving a really big new job to an organisation that doesn’t yet exist…that hasn’t got any staff, and it’s suggesting that’s all going to be set up to run the apprenticeship levy from next April as well as implementation of the Sainsbury review and the skills plan. And it doesn’t exist.
'I don’t think that will work'
"Even when it’s up and running, it’s suggesting it will have 100 people in it – 100 people to do all of that?" he added. "Sorry, I just can’t see it, I don’t think that will work."
Mr Hughes, who this month started his new role at the AoC, also said he had "real worries" about whether there would be sufficient infrastructure to reform post-16 education amid the "sucking out" of officials from other departments to deal with Brexit.
"The timescale seems reasonable at one level, the next two, three, four years," he added. "But there’s a lot of other stuff going on in Whitehall, not least Brexit and all of that sucking out [of the civil service], so there are some real worries about whether there’s enough infrastructure, enough capacity in the system to do this."
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