Interviews for a permanent chief executive at the Institute for Apprenticeships will at last begin later this month, finishing in October.
The hunt for a full-time successor to Peter Lauener began way back in April, with a closing date of May 22 for applications.
But the IfA turned to headhunters in July after failing to appoint anyone after the first recruitment round.
However, a spokesperson has now confirmed to FE Week that the institute is in the “latter stages” of its search.
“There has been strong interest and we will be conducting interviews with a number of candidates in September and October,” he said. “We will make a further announcement after that process.”
It will be welcome news for many across the sector, which has been eagerly anticipating an update for months.
“The IfA has a vital role to play in the system in making sure apprenticeships meet learner and company needs,” Neil Carberry, the CBI’s managing director, told FE Week.
“It’s great news that the appointment of a permanent chief executive is finally making progress.”
The IfA, which launched in April and is expected to have an annual budget of around £8 million and up to 80 staff, has been led by Peter Lauener in an interim role since September last year.
He took the work on alongside his existing responsibilities as head of both parts of the then-separate Education Funding Agency and Skills Funding Agency.
In March, the Department for Education announced that Mr Lauener would retire once his permanent replacements were in place.
In August the ESFA announced it had appointed Eileen Milner, currently an executive director at the Care Quality Commission, as head of the newly combined ESFA.
She is due to take up her new job in November, after which Mr Lauener is expected to begin his well-earned retirement.