From education to employment

Cabinet Re-shuffle – Gavin Williamson remains as Secretary of State for the Department of Education – Sector Response

Gavin Williamson

In today’s Cabinet reshuffle @GavinWilliamson remains as Secretary of State for the Department of Education. 

Today the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced his first Cabinet reshuffle since the General Election. There were a lot of changes in the top positions, including the introduction of a new Chancellor – Rishi Sunak, and the return of Gavin Williamson as Education Secretary.

 How has the FE and Skills sector responded to the news?

Tom Bewick, Chief Executive of the Federation of Awarding Bodies (FAB) said:

“With all the changes to regulation and reform of the skills system, FAB welcomes the stability that has come with the re-appointment of Gavin Williamson to the Cabinet.

“We’d still like to see a dedicated skills and apprenticeship minister. As we saw from today’s announcement, about below Level 3 qualifications, there are some big challenges that both the government and the sector needs to address. For example, wages have stagnated in the past decade. Social mobility has stalled. Employers are investing 23 per cent less per employee in training than they were in 2005. And 4 million less adults are participating in lifelong learning than they were in 2015. Non of these challenges will be solved overnight. But we hope a productive working relationship with ministers will help level up skills investment and opportunity across the country in the years to come.”

Mark Dawe, Chief Executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP), commented:

“This is a very sensible decision and AELP looks forward to continuing discussions with Mr Williamson on how his passion for skills will help them play a fundamental role in transforming the economy and driving social mobility. 

“We hope that the Secretary of State will impress upon the new Chancellor the need for greater investment in apprenticeships, particularly a separate fund for non-levy payers of £1.5bn, as it will be SMEs who will be pivotal in local economic growth in the red wall areas of the country.  Parliament has seen no less than four debates take place this week where apprenticeships have featured prominently and there is obviously a great appetite at Westminster for something to be done about the shortage of non-levy funding, level 2 apprenticeships and apprenticeship opportunities for 16 to 18 year olds.” 

Association of Colleges (AoC) is the national voice for colleges, representing around 93% of England’s further education colleges. Chief Executive, David Hughes responds:

“I am delighted to see Gavin Williamson confirmed as Education Secretary. He has shown over the last 6 months that he believes in colleges and wants to develop a stronger post-16 education and training system. His many visits to colleges and engagement with college leaders has led to a strong relationship which we are optimistic about. I know that the additional funding announced last September was in large part due to his advocacy within the government and I have no doubt that the capital funding and new National Skills Fund promised in the Conservative election manifesto were also driven by his ambition for the sector. We are looking forward to him championing college investment in the Budget and the Spending Review.

“I also want to congratulate Rishi Sunak as Chancellor of the Exchequer. I have written to him today, sharing our Budget submission. It is widely agreed that colleges have suffered from a decade of neglect, with an overall 30% reduction in funding. There are signs that the neglect is over and I am looking forward to working with the Chancellor and his team to make sure that the potential of colleges is fully appreciated. That potential is to support people to get on in work and life, to help employers recruit skilled people and to improve productivity and to drive economic and community development in every part of the country. With the right investment, colleges can help this government deliver on many of its ambitions; I hope and trust that the Chancellor will recognise that and invest wisely.”



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