27th January 2012 at 00:00

Agencies may have to put their heads together

The search is on for a replacement for Simon Waugh, after his decision to step down from the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS). Or is it? Here are some reasons to suspect that the service may never get another permanent chief executive.

Firstly, it looked bad enough when the government created the NAS along with the funding agencies for 16-19 and adult skills - a supposed simplification measure that put three people on chief executive salaries instead of one. Now that people everywhere are losing their jobs, the fewer fat-cat civil service appointments, the better.

Secondly, the order requiring the appointment of a boss for the NAS comes under the legislation for the office of chief executive of the Skills Funding Agency (SFA), which is being scrapped. (In future, there will be an SFA chief executive, but he will not have statutory powers. One SFA source described the impact of the change as "moving the deckchairs", with the Titanic comparison perhaps unintended.)

So what will happen to the NAS? Maybe David Way, its chief operating officer, could just report to the next SFA boss. That might also end the finger-pointing and buck-passing between the agencies over the criticism of apprenticeship quality. FErret is only speculating here, but if officials want to take up his ideas, his consultancy rates are very reasonable.

Elementary, my dear BIS

A tragic missed opportunity for FE marketing as the review under David Sherlock to resolve the dispute between the Institute for Learning and the University and College Union (UCU) gets under way. Sherlock? An inquiry? Has the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills cashed in on Sherlock-mania?

Alas, no: with no romance or adventure in their souls, the Victoria Street denizens titled it simply The Independent Review of Professionalism. Surely we can do better. A Scandal in Victoria, perhaps? Or, after UCU's colours, A Study In Pink And Purple? There is a Sherlock Holmes story called The Adventure of the Three Students, but in the real world this would just mean that your course was being shut down due to lack of demand.

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