From education to employment

Nick Boles hands in resignation as Skills Minister. What is the FE sector response?

Nick Boles has resigned as Skills Minister. Mr Boles said about his resignation: “I have greatly enjoyed my time as minister for skills and minister for planning. I take particular pride in three things: the introduction of the apprenticeship levy which will encourage more employers to offer apprenticeships and increase spending on apprenticeship training by £1 billion a year by 2020; the development of the government’s Skills Plan which heralds a transformation in the status and quality of technical education in England; and the introduction of permitted development rights which have made it possible to convert thousands of under-utilised offices and agricultural buildings into desperately needed housing.

“I would also like to congratulate Theresa May on becoming Prime Minister. I am very proud to be a member of the party that has now elected two women to hold this office. I look forward to giving her my full support as she strives to make Britain a place that works for everyone, not just a privileged few. It is a noble ambition and I wish her well.”

Sector Response:

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

“Nick Boles proved to be a real listener when it came to taking forward the apprenticeship funding reforms that he inherited.  He understood that smaller businesses had to stay engaged in the programme and we hope that the next set of levy announcements will confirm this.  Training providers also welcomed his strong backing for Traineeships.  As a reformer, AELP hopes that he will retain an interest in FE and skills from the backbenches.  We appreciate everything he has done when government finances elsewhere have been so tight.”

Martin Doel, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges (AoC), said:

“Minister Boles recognised the importance of high-quality technical and professional education and training, particularly apprenticeships.

“During his time in office he has initiated a wide-ranging programme of change in colleges through the apprenticeship reform, area based reviews and the Sainsbury panel report. He also secured a more favourable spending settlement than most expected in the last Spending Review.

“Mr Boles has set an ambitious agenda and, though he did not redress the cuts in funding over the preceding five years, the spending settlement and the inception of an apprenticeship levy, offered the prospect of adequate resources to fulfil the ambitious agenda. 

“It’s a pity he has not been able to see the changes through; the last thing that colleges now need is yet another abrupt change of direction from a new minister or a renewed attack on their funding.”       


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