Sat at the front of a breakfast event, I was witness to a refreshing account from a skills minister from whom we’d not really heard since June.

On the morning of the third day of the Conservative conference, Anne Milton was speaking at her fifth fringe event.

Freed from the shackles of civil servant minders, employers were able to give her honest and frank feedback.

She declared she was “quite flabbergasted” to find several big business bosses ignorant of the apprenticeship levy.

Others were telling her that employer ownership in practice meant red tape and discussing “inflexibility” from the new Institute of Apprenticeships.

Stuck between her advisors and employers, she said she would need to find common ground, and quickly.

I was also struck by how much degree apprenticeships dominated the debate, as if they were now the only show in town.

But when I asked what the saturation point was for £27,000 management degree apprenticeships, I was reassured that level two and three were also important.

The minister sounded like she was taking the feedback seriously, and change could be on the way.


Good luck #TEAMUK

On Tuesday I will be attending the WorldSkills UK Team UK send-off at the Houses of Parliament.

I am delighted and proud that FE Week is once again the official media partner for World Skills UK and Team UK.

This year we have partnered with Pearson to report live from WorldSkills Abu Dhabi.

Our senior reporter Billy Camden, and managing director Shane Mann, will be heading over to Abu Dhabi next week to bring you all the action and report back on Team UK’s success.

In partnership with Pearson, included with this week’s edition is a “Go Team UK” results poster.

I hope you will display this around your organisation and encourage colleagues and students to cheer on the team.

Send your good luck message to the competitors by using #TeamUK on social media.

On behalf of all the team here at FE Week – good luck #TeamUK