The FE sector congratulates Minister on expanded brief

Matthew Hancock MP, now Minister of State for Skills and Enterprise has been congratulated on his expanded portfolio by bodies from across the FE sector.

Mr Hancock, formerly Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Skills, was promoted during today’s ministerial reshuffle.

The chief executive of the Association of Colleges, Martin Doel, joined representatives from the NUS, the National Institute for Adult Continuing Education (NIACE), the 157 Group and the Education and Training Foundation in offering the minister “warm congratulations”.

Mr Doel added that he was pleased Mr Hancock had not been moved to a different department.

He said: “Continuity is very important and so we’re pleased to know that we will be working with the same Minister in future.”

AELP chief executive Stewart Segal agreed there were benefits to Mr Hancock keeping both his BIS and Education briefs, describing it as “very encouraging news” that would support “cohesive policy making”.

He said: “Matthew Hancock has done a fantastic job in championing apprenticeships and traineeships and it is important that he is staying on to oversee the apprenticeship reform process.”

Others felt that Mr Hanock’s promotion could help to give extra prominence to FE.

Joe Vinson, NUS vice president for Further Education, said:“It is positive to see the link between further education and skills on the one hand, and enterprise and growth on the other, properly recognised by the resurrection of this cross-departmental minister of state role.

“We hope that the work that was started on supporting apprenticeships and traineeships will now be followed up with an improvement in opportunities, terms and conditions, as well as seeing more done on getting chartered status for colleges and on keeping professional teachers and trainers at the heart of further education.”

157 Group chief executive Lynne Sedgmore, described the new post of Minister of State for Skills and Enterprise as “an acknowledgement of the vital role that the Further Education and skills sector plays in economic growth and in strengthening Britain’s position in the global race.”

A spokesperson for The Association of Teachers and Lecturers said:  “We hope the promotion of Matthew Hancock to Minister of State for Skills and Enterprise will give a higher profile to his work on skills and mean this is given a greater priority by the government.

“The near million unemployed 16- to 24-year-olds desperately need a champion to help them gain the skills they need to find work.”

Niace director of communications and public affairs Tom Stannard agreed, saying the organisation was “pleased to see skills given prominence in Mr Hancock’s title”.

“Now is a crucial time for enterprise and this provides a good opportunity to make sure that learning and skills strategies are central to the Local Enterprise Partnerships growth plans and not to be seen as secondary to infrastructure, transport and housing,” he said.

“There is a major challenge ahead with ensuring that all adults are equipped with the high-level skills that our economy needs and which will help them adapt to the changing global market. We wish the Minister every success and look forward to our continued working relationship.”

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, wished Mr Hancock well with his extended brief.

She said: “After the Prime Minister’s assessment of the problems young people face last week, we desperately need a champion of young people in Government.

“We hope Mr Hancock will encourage a more thoughtful debate around why so many youngsters are inactive. Young people are desperate to work or train, but there are simply not the opportunities available.”

A spokesperson from the Education and Training Foundation said: “We look forward to continuing to play our part in the vital aspects of workforce development, including priority areas associated with improving vocational education and training.”