DfE advertises for members for new skills and productivity board

Leading labour market economists are being offered £1,000 a day by the Department for Education to join its new skills and productivity board. 

Five vacancies for three-year terms are being advertised for, with an expectation members will commit for 29 days a year, including 12 board meetings. 

The board, the advertisement reads, “will undertake expert analysis of which skills and training add the most value to the economy and give the best earnings for learners,” using both technical analysis of data sources such as earnings, as well as stakeholder interviews, policy reviews, and academic research. The board will also make policy recommendations. 

Their evidence will help the government to identify the training which “best equips young people for work in the future” and will be used by education ministers to inform policy decisions which will “help the system to deliver more of the most valuable skills”.

A Department for Education spokesperson said the board will offer “independent analysis on skills mismatches and identify new and emerging skills needs”.

“In the context of  COVID-19, the board will make a vital contribution to addressing the challenges facing the labour market and providing the skills most needed to promote the economic recovery.”

The panel will be chaired by a business leader appointed by the education secretary who will also set out the board’s direction and work plan. The department said they hoped to announce the chair soon.

Williamson first announced the board in a Guardian article last September, saying: “It’s wrong if we are in a situation where we are selling people courses that aren’t going to lead them into employment. The whole purpose of this is to drive up the level and type of courses that people are taking.” 

“The reason I am setting up a skills and productivity board is to focus on what the economy needs and how I can best spend money to equip people with those skills, so we are providing the employers of Britain with the people they need for the modern economy.” 

The board will also receive information from Skills Advisory Panels, groups of employers, providers and local authorities based in each mayoral authority and local enterprise authority, which were handed £75,000 each earlier this year to produce action plans and reports highlighting how they have supported local providers and employers to address local skills priorities. 

Applicants for the board, the advertisement says, must have evidence of peer-reviewed, published research demonstrating expertise in labour market or skills economics, credibility and status within a peer-reviewed research community, as well as evidence the ability to use quantitative and qualitative research and analysis methods and to both produce complex and technical research findings and communicate them to a non-expert audience. 

They have until 6 September to apply, with interviews expected to take place during the weeks commencing 14 and 28 September. 

The Department for Education has been approached for comment on whether it will advertise for a chair for the board separately, and what their terms and conditions will be.