A little knowledge of the Welsh psyche helps
Ken Young, chairman of the Further Education Funding Council for Wales, says:
"The most important thing is that they should have the right blend of knowledge of, and credibility in, education and managerial skills. It would be self-defeating to be too prescriptive about their precise background. If you had an applicant with the skills and experience of Sir Ron Dearing it would be absurd to eliminate him from consideration simply because he had never been a university vice-chancellor."
The chief executives of the English, Welsh and Scottish funding councils are all academics. Professor Andrews held the chair in law at the University of Wales. He retires next spring and his post will be advertised shortly.
Mr Young said the council would look for many of the skills that Professor Andrews brought to the job. "John will be an extremely hard act to follow. We need someone with a knowledge of both Wales and education, who will be both a good manager of the executive and capable of representing the sector to Government and other bodies."
A Welsh background was not necessary but he said: "It would be an extremely difficult job for a complete outsider who had no knowledge of the Welsh pysche."
The appointment is one of the most important jobs facing Mr Young, 67, who became chair of FEFCW last May. He believes being Welsh may have aided his own appointment.
His background includes chairing the Student Loans Company and the governors of the Roehampton Institute. He was first directly involved in the sector as chair of the Further Education Development Agency - he also chaired the inquiry which set it up. He has a long-term interest in training issues from his time as a senior manager with the Post Office. His appointment continues a recent tradition of Post Office chiefs - Ron Dearing and Bryan Nicholson among them - becoming involved in the running of education.
Mr Young, appointed for three years, is likely to be the last chair of FEFCW. The Education and Training Advisory Plan, currently under consideration by the National Assembly of Wales, calls for FEFCW's replacement with a council for education and training. Mr Young is a strong backer of the advisory plan:
"While there have been some criticisms of a few practical elements, I have heard nobody attack the underlying principles. It is important that ETAP should be implemented as soon as possible."
While keen to see more incentives offered to colleges to help their local economies, he is happy with the current funding mechanism. Many wanted more money but Mr Young said: "I hear very few complaints about the way it is distributed."