Minister’s office breaks apprenticeship recruitment pledge

A pledge to fill all junior roles with apprentices until the end of December has already been broken by the Department for Education.

Job adverts for three diary managers, who will work directly with ministers and the DfE’s permanent secretary, at executive officer level are currently live and state the roles can be filled by “non-apprentices”.

It comes despite skills minister Gillian Keegan having told education select committee chair Robert Halfon earlier this month that the DfE was changing its recruitment approach to “ensure all executive assistant and executive officer positions are filled using apprenticeships, for a pilot period between 1 September to 31 December 2020”.

She repeated the promise when speaking at an Association of Employment and Learning Providers conference on 9 September – declaring that “we practise what we preach” when it comes to boosting the number of apprentices across the country.

After being shown the diary manager adverts, the DfE admitted that in a “small number” of instances an “exemption” to their new recruitment policy may be necessary.

A DfE spokesperson said: “We remain committed to ensuring all executive assistant and executive officer positions at the DfE are filled using apprenticeships, for a pilot period between 1 September to 31 December 2020.

“We are bringing in three diary managers to work in private offices across the department. The intention is to fill these roles with high potential apprentices who will be able to manage a fast paced working environment while keeping on top of their apprenticeship learning. However, it may be necessary to fill one of the roles with a candidate with a higher level of previous experience who would therefore be ineligible to undertake the apprenticeship in business administration.

“We are advertising 28 apprenticeship vacancies and have received a high level of interest from potential candidates.”

The DfE is accepting applications to the diary manager roles until 27 September. Based in London and paid £28,500 a year, successful candidates will “manage the minister or permanent secretary’s time so they are able to attend key meetings, ensure they have the time available to engage with policy and strategic issues and make business critical decisions”.

The DfE’s recruitment pilot is also being run in the Education and Skills Funding Agency.