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New chief of Lifelong Learning UK

David Melville, the former further education funding chief, is to take over as chairman of Lifelong Learning UK, the organisation responsible for professional standards in post-16 education.

LLUK is one of 25 sector skills councils which have been set up to represent employers in the drive to improve employees' skills.

As the skills council responsible for the staff who train other workers, it is seen as the most influential, representing a wide range of organisations including FE, universities and libraries.

Mr Melville takes over from John Hedger, the former civil servant who, with chief executive David Hunter, successfully pulled together the various parts of the post-16 education "sector" and the four UK governments to create the new body.

LLUK is responsible for the training standards of more than a million people, and for helping their employers - including colleges - to identify skills gaps among their workforce.

Mr Melville, vice-chancellor of Kent university, was chief executive of the Further Education Funding Council until it was replaced by the Learning and Skills Council in 2001.

He said one of the main challenges for LLUK would be to create common qualification standards that allow staff to transfer between the various parts of the education system.

The organisation also wants to make sure that work-based learning is being carried out by tutors who meet the same standards as their colleagues in FE colleges. They are now required to have, or to be working towards teaching qualifications.

He said: "We need to look at the portability of qualifications between different sectors.

"We have got quite a lot of staff at this university who started at very senior levels in FE.

"Priorities will include looking at the standards of tutors in work-based training, and creating a network of the chairs of sector skills councils so LLUK can hear directly about the skills requirements of employers.

"The chairs need to talk to each other but, in particular, they need to talk to us. Together, we can produce more than we could individually.

"The SSCs were set up as employer-led bodies, so to have someone who employs staff in education is the right move at this new stage.

"John Hedger did an extremely good job. Having someone who was neutral, rather than an employer in one of the sectors covered by LLUK, was an extremely good move for that stage of its development."

Mr Melville said he regardedthe example of his own university as a testament to his commitment to bringing further and higher education closer together.

It has set up what has become known as a "multiversity" in the county - a complex which is occupied by three universities, including his own, and Mid Kent college.

The principal of Mid Kent is Stephen Grix, former chief inspector of post-16 education.

Mr Melville's career has straddled the HE and FE worlds. Another of his roles is the chairmanship of Kent and Medway learning and skills council and his earlier career included the vice-chancellorship of Middlesex university.

He started in education as a physics lecturer at Southampton university.

He was made a CBE for services to further and higher education in 2001 and was recently involved in the Foster review of colleges which resulted in the recent white paper for further education.

His other responsibilities have included contributing to the Tomlinson review of 14-19 education and involvement in the foundation degree task-force, the University Vocational Awards Council, and the 14-19 ministerial advisory group.

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