Agency restructure sees two directors remain but four out

Three directors and a chief information officer have been identified as among the first to go in a programme of Skills Funding Agency job cuts that has left more than 1,000 staff facing an uncertain future.

Julie Robson, executive director for growth (Midlands and North), Sally Stewart, executive director for people, Richard Field, chief information officer, and Marinos Paphitis, executive director provider management (South), will leave next year.

The agency told FE Week they would not be replaced, so the total number of staff on its executive management team (EMT) would be halved to four.

Chief operating officer Paul McGuire will stay on in the EMT to lead the operating division. Keith Smith, executive director of funding and programmes, will continue with his brief and chief executive Kim Thorneywork will remain in post. An EMT vacancy to lead the standards and services division is due to be advertised over the next month.

The agency is also preparing to cut the number of its senior managers from 36 to 23 by April.

An agency spokesperson said: “The agency has just announced a restructure which will see its executive management team being reduced by 50 per cent and its directors by approximately 35 per cent in the 2013-14 financial year. Once this phase has been completed, it is the agency’s intention to reduce the headcount of the rest of the organisation.”

More than 1,000 agency workers, below senior management level, were warned on September 23 their jobs could be under threat as part of a second phase of the job cuts in response to the “Civil Service Reform Agenda”.

The agency confirmed the final number of job losses had still not been determined. Tony Conway, industrial officer at the Public and Commercial Services Union, told FE Week staff meetings about the job losses would be held at each of the agency’s 13 offices around England by the end of next month.

The first meeting took place in Coventry on Thursday, September 12, and was attended by around 30 staff.

He said: “The staff had already had a lot of change imposed on them over the last couple years. I think a lot of them are still pretty shell shocked after this latest announcement.

“I know the local rep was pleased with the turnout at the Coventry meeting and there was a lively discussion about the job cuts. It is too early to say at the moment whether there will be any form of industrial action, as we don’t know the full scale of job losses yet and the period of time they will be imposed over.”The priority for the moment is to speak to as many members as possible about their fears over job security and how they want to proceed.”

The agency has shed 600 of its 1,900 staff in the last four years through cost-cutting schemes launched in October 2010 and December 2011. In April this year, Business Secretary Vince Cable wrote to the agency warning that its administration budget, which includes salaries, was expected to drop £8m, to just under £85m for 2014-15.The agency delivers £4.1bn of skills training through contracts with more than 1,000 providers.