From education to employment

FE Minister says Skills Funding Agency will be a totally different animal

Sion Simon, Minister for Further Education, has bolstered his support for the Skills Funding Agency, and guaranteed its arrival in 2010.

Speaking to delegates on the second day of the Association of Colleges’ three day conference, Mr Simon acknowledged fears mounting over the uncertainty surrounding the FE sector.

In a packed conference hall, he told delegates: "Obviously people would like to know more about exactly what’s going to happen, and exactly when it’s going to happen. Yet, it’s in the nature of transition that there is a time when we don’t know exactly the details of what we’re going to put in place.

"So I don’t want to pretend that all the answers are there now. I want the sector to know that there isn’t a worked out master plan … On the other hand, there is a very strong strategic sense of where we’re going in the department, and why, and how we’re going to get there."

The Minister for Further Education also reassured education leaders that plans for the Skills Funding Agency were still set in place, despite turmoil in the UK economy, and will play a significantly different role than that of the LSC.

Mr Simon continued: "The Skills Funding Agency will not be a watered down version of the LSC, the whole concept is about making it a different animal to the LSC, about making it genuinely demand-led, genuinely responsive about not just having effectively a central planning organisation, but having a body which, in a much more streamlined and light-touch way, passes resources down to the coal-face and where businesses and learners demand learning, training and skills. And the new body responds to that demand of giving resources.

"That’s what we’re going to do in a different way to what the LSC is doing, and it’s going to happen in 2010, and those are fixed facts. The exact detail of exactly how it’s going to happen, we’re not publishing yet.

"There’s going to be a Bill which is going to be introduced in the House of Commons after Christmas, so it’s not going to be long before much more of this detail starts to emerge … There’s absolutely no question of any of it changing in any of its fundamentals, and that’s guaranteed."

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