Nick Boles has been reappointed as minister for FE and skills, it was announced this afternoon.
The Conservative MP will also have additional responsibilities for trade union and employment law. The former planning minister took over the brief, split between the Department for Education and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, last year.
The news came as trade unionists claimed that the futures of many colleges were threatened by further and adult education funding cuts planned by the incoming Tory government.
In an open letter sent to TES, leading members of the University and College Union (UCU) and the National Union of Students say they are “fearful for the future of post-16 education” after the Conservative victory in last week’s general election.
“The cuts they plan threaten the very viability of many FE colleges,” they write. “In addition to ongoing cuts to various further education funding streams, in February the government slashed 24 per cent from non-apprenticeship adult education.
“The scale of this cut has already unleashed a deluge of threatened job losses and course closures.”
The unionists say they plan to intensify their resistance to cuts in the coming weeks and months. They include UCU president Liz Lawrence and other members of the union’s left-wing faction, and Piers Telemacque, NUS vice-president for society and citizenship.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills was unable to comment with ministerial appointments still being made.
The department’s new secretary of state – Sajid Javid, former Conservative culture secretary – was also announced today. Martin Doel, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said: “We congratulate Sajid Javid on his appointment.
“The Conservative Party manifesto, which the prime minister reiterated on Friday, promised to increase the number of apprenticeships to 3 million. Colleges will have a key role, with government and with employers, in realising this ambition, but we will also be encouraging Mr Javid to ensure those many millions of adults not eligible for an apprenticeship are able to access training, including part-time workers and those looking to return to the workplace or a change in career.”