Tomorrow the further eduction sector will wake up to a new minister, as this evening the Prime Minister’s Office announced via twitter that John Hayes has been moved to the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

FE Week got in touch with the shadow minister, and a number of FE sector leaders, and it seems the first emotion of many may prove to be shock, followed by disappointment.

Here is what they told us:

Gordon Marsden, Labour MP for Blackpool South and Shadow Minister for Further Education, Skills and Regional Growth said: “John Hayes being moved out of BIS is a significant loss both to the Government and the FE sector. His gusto, inimitable style and personal warmth came through in his shining commitment to his portfolio and his successor will find him a tough act to follow.”

Lynne Sedgmore, Executive Director of the 157 Group said: “I am very sorry to see John Hayes move out of skills, he has been one of our most committed, poetic and passionate ministers. Not only has he fought hard for FE, he has also sought to understand us and devoted himself to raising the esteem and status of FE with heartfelt commitment. I hope he is highly successful in his new role and can be as fully passionate, poetic even, about energy!”

He embraced us, set us challenges and encouraged us to innovate.”

Martin Doel, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges (AoC), said: “Though sad to lose such a passionate and effective advocate for Further Education and for Colleges, we wish Minister Hayes well in his new role in the Department of Energy and Climate Change”

Graham Hoyle, Chief Executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP), said: “John’s strong championing of high quality apprenticeships as the flagship skills programme has served both the sector and the economy very well during challenging times.  The biggest tribute I can pay is that the economic pay-off from his legacy will still be felt in years to come, so you could never apply the epithet ‘here today, gone tomorrow politician’ to John Hayes.”

Matt Atkinson, Principal of Bath College, Trustee of Learning Skills Improvement Service and Chair of Association of Colleges Reputation Portfolio Group said: “John Hayes got what our sector is about and truly understood our contribution to economic recovery. He embraced us, set us challenges and encouraged us to innovate.”

He retained a strong commitment to an expansive view of learning which we need to hang onto”

David Hughes, Chief Executive of NIACE said: “We will miss John Hayes as the FE Minister; not only did he have a passion for the job, he also had a deep understanding which came from carefully listening and learning both as Shadow and then as Minister. He retained a strong commitment to an expansive view of learning which we need to hang onto as funding cuts bite further and was persuasive and significant in the spending review in protecting community learning, something else we will need to fight to hand onto. Over and above that I enjoyed working with him and will miss the entertaining meetings we had.”

Toni Fazaeli, Chief Executive of the Institute for Learning (IfL) said: “Having an unquestionable passion for the intrinsic value of learning seems central to the role of minister for FE and skills.  John Hayes understands the transformative power of all forms of further education and training, and has championed apprenticeships and community learning in particular. We pay particular tribute to Mr Hayes’ work in supporting IfL’s campaign to ensure that members with Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) status are recognised as equal to those with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)  for teaching in schools settings as well as in further education.  This was an important step forward in raising the status of teachers and trainers in our sector.”

Tributes were also made on twitter, including:

Wes Streeting, former President of the National Union of Students, tweeted: “Really sad that John Hayes isn’t FE Minister anymore. Demonstrated passion and commitment beyond doubt. And a lovely man to work with too.”

Barry Sheerman, Labour Co-operative MP for Huddersfield  and former Chair of the Education Select Committee, tweeted about John Hayes: “Same old game, move a minister as soon as they’ve become useful”

Shane Chowen, former Vice President of FE at the NUS tweeted: “Truly gutted that we’ve lost John Hayes as FE Minister.”

Will Torrent, award winning Patissier and Chocolatier and UK ambassador to WorldSkills tweeted: “Such a massive supporter of WorldSkills UK and helped deliver WorldSkills London 2011 so brilliantly! Top bloke as well and loves  marzipan!”

Photo taken by Nick Linford for FE Week at the AoC Annual Conference and Exhibition 2011 in Birmingham