Former universities minister Michelle Donelan has been named Minister of State for Further and Higher Education.
FE Week reported a week ago that there were whispers in Westminster that Donelan could take a larger education portfolio. This has been confirmed today in a joint message to the sector with Alex Burghart, a junior minister with the apprenticeships and skills brief.
Burghart’s first visit as a newly appointed apprenticeships and skills minister took place yesterday at La Retraite Roman Catholic Girls’ School in London. The school, which received an ‘outstanding’ overall judgment at its last Ofsted inspection in April 2013, is one of the first T Level providers and offers the digital, education and childcare, and health and science routes.
In their message to the sector, posted in full below, Donelan and Burghart state that they will both be representing further and higher education,
“It has long been said that the skills system has been disjointed and confusing which ultimately can affect the experiences and opportunities available to young people and adults. By bringing together these two sectors we want to break down any barriers and work in sync to help encourage closer working between colleges, universities, employers and apprenticeship providers so that ultimately, everyone can gain the skills they need to get great jobs.”
Donelan is the first minister to hold a joint further and higher education brief since Labour’s Bill Rammell, who served as minister for lifelong learning, further and higher education between 2007 and 2008 under Gordon Brown.
It is believed however that Donelan is the first further and higher education minister to attend Cabinet.
Message to the sector in full:
A message from Minister Donelan and Minister Burghart
It is with great pleasure that we are writing to you to introduce ourselves.
As we are sure you will have seen, together we will be representing both higher and further education and we are truly honoured to take on these roles and to be able to work with you all.
It has long been said that the skills system has been disjointed and confusing which ultimately can affect the experiences and opportunities available to young people and adults. By bringing together these two sectors we want to break down any barriers and work in sync to help encourage closer working between colleges, universities, employers and apprenticeship providers so that ultimately, everyone can gain the skills they need to get great jobs.
As Minister for State for Higher Education and Further Education Michelle Donelan will also attend Cabinet to ensure these important briefs are represented at the most senior level.
It is an incredibly exciting time for further education, with transformational reforms and our Skills for Jobs White Paper offering us the opportunity to level up and make sure that together we can deliver the skills that our country needs for the future. This work to help people reskill and provide the employees that businesses need, has never been more important as we move out of Covid restrictions and look to rebuild our economy.
We know that up and down the country colleges and providers are doing fantastic work delivering innovative and high-quality training and that, in the face of a global pandemic you have all gone above and beyond to support your learners and staff and remain pillars of your local communities. We would like to thank you for your continued dedication and we cannot wait to get out and about on visits to see more of the innovative work you do and to meet with staff and students.
We have a great journey ahead of us and we can promise that together, we will champion further education with the energy and passion that it deserves.
Rt Hon. Michelle Donelan MP and Alex Burghart MP