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Department for Education to include apprenticeships and skills

Theresa May has made some big changes with a new-look DfE and a new secretary.

Safeera Sarjoo
04th August 2016
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The appointment of Theresa May has meant a complete shakeup across most departments. One of the more interesting moves from the new Prime Minister is the appointment of Justine Greening as secretary of the Department for Education, which will now also take responsibility for further education, apprenticeships and skills.

Formerly part of the Business, Innovation and Skills department, the decision to merge apprenticeships and skills has been welcomed by many within the sector.

The government is said to be taking a comprehensive approach to education and skills which will support people from early stages to postgraduate level and even into work.

David Hughes, chief executive of the Learning and Work Institute commented on the move to merge both departments saying, ‘We recognise the opportunities created by bringing together [further education], 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.’

Not only will the new department be working towards existing aims of giving all children the chance to get the best education possible at school and improving access to childcare, but it will now take on the responsibility of reforming the higher education sector.

Apprenticeships won’t be left out of the mix either as the Department for Education will also work to deliver more opportunities, which is a huge change to the way the UK approaches skills in the workplace.

A further apprenticeship-related change is the resignation of Nick Boles. It was announced that Robert Halfon would be replacing him as the new minister for apprenticeships and skills. Individuals within the sector appear to be happy with this decision as Halfon not only has the credentials, but is an avid supporter of apprenticeships.

As this will remain a priority to deliver on, Halfon will be expected to stick to the current levy timetable and deliver the next set of guidelines as training providers will have a lot to do

We’re pleased to know that this appointment has gone to someone who is full of passion for the sector – a sentiment that is echoed across various associations and further education organisations.

Hughes also said that he is looking forward to ‘working with him in his new role to make sure that apprenticeships and adult education are high on the new government’s agenda.’

These changes have been great for apprenticeships and will probably give them the chance to really stand out for what they are; an exceptional way to gain valuable, first hand work experience. For too long they’ve been cast aside as an option for low achievers and with other happenings like the implementation of the Sainsbury Review, which includes 15 technical pathways, the sector is finally presenting options for students rather than confining them to one route.

Including apprenticeships under the Department of Education makes a big statement too. It shows that the government does regard apprenticeships with the same esteem as degrees and higher education options.

Rather than creating apprenticeships for the sake of it, we hope the new Department for Education will take into account the quality of content and experience apprenticeships should be giving to students as well as providing opportunities at various levels.

If students feel better suited to a work based programme there is no reason why they shouldn’t be pushed to their limits through this method of learning and walk into the equivalent of an entry level job upon completion.


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