The FAB Chair, Paul Eeles, has written to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, calling on him to use his next Cabinet reshuffle to reinstate a Minister of State for Skills, Apprenticeships and Further Education:
I wanted to underline the Federation of Awarding Bodies support for your ambition of the United Kingdom becoming a world leader in education and science, particularly as we leave the European Union.
Our members – awarding bodies and examination boards – already provide millions of learners in the UK and overseas with the qualifications and skills to succeed. Ultimately, the work of our members is about growing the human capital potential of the whole country – north, south, east and west.
A significant number of our members also successfully help to export the British brand of education and well respected qualifications overseas. In many ways, we are world-leaders already.
As you contemplate a government reshuffle and potentially make some machinery of government changes, there are some matters I wanted to raise with you directly.
The first thing I wanted to highlight is how impressed we have been with the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, and the fact he has been one of the most engaged cabinet ministers, particularly in relation to improving technical and further education.
That said, one of the casualties of your last reshuffle was to remove the Minister of State post for Skills and Apprenticeships from the Department for Education. In practice, however, this has meant the further education sector has lost a daily champion and reformer with whom we could effectively engage. This is in stark contrast to schools and universities who do have dedicated ministers.
Given your renewed focus, as a Government, in ensuring that the economic and social opportunities of the nation are developed more evenly across the country, can I encourage you to appoint a dedicated minister with a laser like brief, who is ruthlessly focussed on improving productivity, apprenticeships, skills and FE?
As you are aware, the UK has a major productivity gap with other G7 countries. Social mobility has stalled in recent years. And in England, we are facing a real challenge to ensure programmes like the Apprenticeship Levy are meeting the needs of employers and young people.
The resumption of a dedicated FE minister would really help to take your ambitious agenda forward.
Paul Eeles, Chair od The Federation of Awarding Bodies (FAB)