From education to employment

Sector response to Department for Education (DfE) taking responsibility for FE, Skills & Apprenticeships

The Department for Education (DfE) will now be taking responsibility for Further Education, Skills and Apprenticeships. Justine Greening has been announced as the new Education Secretary today.

Here is the Number 10 announcement of the news:

The Prime Minister has appointed Justine Greening as Secretary of State for Educationand Minister for Women and Equalities.

The Department for Education will take on responsibility for Higher and Further Education policy, apprenticeships and wider skills policy from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Bringing these responsibilities together will mean that the Government can take a comprehensive, end-to-end view of skills and education, supporting people from early years through to postgraduate study and work.

The department will continue to focus on its existing core aims, including:

  • leading the Government’s drive to give all children the chance to get the best possible education at school;
  • improving childcare so that all working parents can have access to 30 hours of free childcare for three and four year old children from September 2017.

In addition it will take on responsibility for:

  • reforming the Higher Education sector to boost competition and continue to improve the quality of education that students receive; and
  • delivering more apprenticeships through a fundamental change in the UK’s approach to skills in the workplace.

As part of these changes staff from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills working on Higher and Further Education policy, apprenticeships and skills will transfer to the Department for Education.


So what does this mean for the Further Education, Skills and Apprenticeship sector?

Here is the sector response:

MarkDawe 100x100Mark Dawe, Chief Executive of the Employment and Learning Providers comments:

“Having apprenticeships and traineeships under one roof could be a very positive move.  It will give us a chance to properly pull together the Sainsbury Review and apprenticeship strategy. We might see finally see the creation of an all-age careers service in England too.  We look forward to hearing Ms Greening set out her stall and welcome her to her new post.”


Paul Eeles 100x100Commenting on the appointment of the new Secretary of State for Education, Paul Eeles, Chief Executive of the Skills and Education Group said:

“I would like to congratulate Justine Greening on her appointment as the new Secretary of State for Education and we welcome reports that the Department for Education will once again oversee responsibilities for further education, skills and higher education.

“We hope the combined department will ensure cohesion right from school age through to adult learning and will provide a more joined up approach, we hope with a single funding agency, and with more opportunities to provide young people with careers education about alternative opportunities including vocational qualifications and apprenticeships.

“Everyone at the Skills and Education Group looks forward to working with the new Secretary of State and her team, over the next Parliament and seeing the recommendations from the Report of the Independent Panel on Technical Education materialise within a fully integrated education and skills department.”

david hughes 100 x100David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Learning and Work Institute said:

“We would like to offer our sincere congratulations to Justine Greening on her new appointment, heading up the Department for Education. We know that she is a Minister who understands the power and importance of lifelong learning because of her involvement in Adult Learners Week 2015.

“We recognise the opportunities created by bringing together FE, Skills and Apprenticeships with schools and early learning. Joining these areas up can create a more coherent and seamless approach to lifelong learning, with real advantage for students, learners and apprentices. I am looking forward to supporting the new minister and her team to realise those benefits.

“It is essential however that FE and skills are not overlooked with the many challenges that schools, early education and higher education present. Working with the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP), the Association of Colleges (AoC) and other partners we will make sure that these areas remain high on the agenda as further education and skills have never been so important in the current climate of uncertainty.”


mary boustedDr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said: “We welcome Justine Greening’s appointment. It is good to have an education secretary who has been educated at a comprehensive school.

“Ms Greening faces huge challenges in her new role in Government. A teacher recruitment and retention crisis threatens to derail the Government’s drive to raise educational standards. Botched qualification reform threatens to do damage to the teaching profession, to pupils and to the confidence that important stakeholders, such as employers, have in the education system. Nicky Morgan failed to acknowledge the scale and severity of these problems. Ms Greening must demonstrate that she has a firmer grasp of her Departmental tiller and that she has a keen eye for the detailed implementation of education policy announcements.

“Ms Greening’s interest in vocational qualifications should be of great benefit as vocational training and apprenticeships are incorporated into the DfE’s remit. This makes good sense as does the uniting of higher and further education, with compulsory education.

“We wish Ms Greening every success in her new, highly challenging role. ATL will seek to work with her to improve the educational standards and life chances of all children, young people and adults, all of whom should have access to life-long learning if the UK is to meet the skills challenge which has become even more acute post Brexit.”


martin doel aoc 100x100Martin Doel, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges (AoC), said:

“We look forward to working with Justine Greening as the new Education Secretary as her Department takes on the responsibility for skills. Ms Greening has a good knowledge of the further education and skills sector and is a former college student herself.

“The move to incorporate skills into the Department for Education must not be allowed to preface any loss of focus on technical education as embodied in the recently released Post-16 Skills Plan.

“Links with industry that were firmly established in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills need to be preserved and built upon in the transfer of Departments. The distinctive contribution of colleges as autonomous institutions needs also to be recognised and promoted – they are not the same as big schools.”

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