Former home sec Jacqui Smith expected to become skills and FE minister

Former Labour home secretary Jacqui Smith will return to government

Former Labour home secretary Jacqui Smith will return to government

Prime minister Keir Starmer has appointed the former home secretary Jacqui Smith as a minister of state at the Department for Education.

FE Week understands Smith will take the skills, further and higher education brief, though this has not yet been confirmed by the Department for Education.

Smith served in several ministerial roles in the last Labour government. She was the country’s first woman to serve as home secretary and was the minister for 14-19 learners and schools between 2005 and 2006.

Smith will lead on Labour’s skills reforms from the House of Lords.

Labour’s winning manifesto committed the party to replacing the apprenticeship levy and setting up Skills England, a new “cross-government taskforce” to co-ordinate a national skills strategy.

Bridget Phillipson was officially appointed education secretary yesterday. Further members of the DfE ministerial team are to be announced in the coming days.

Posting on X, formerly known as Twitter, Smith said:

“I am incredibly proud to be returning to @educationgovuk [Department for Education] working with the enormously impressive @bphillipsonMP [Bridget Phillipson] in a job which is crucial for ensuring opportunities for all and contributing to the government’s central mission to deliver growth.”

This means Starmer has merged the skills and higher education ministerial portfolios. Until now, Seema Malhotra has led on skills and Matt Western has led on higher education.

Western said Smith “brings huge experience of government at a time when the HE and FE sectors are facing their greatest challenges: bringing the roles together makes much sense.”

Starmer and his newly appointed cabinet will be beginning preparations for their first King’s Speech, taking place on July 17.

Legislation announced in the King’s Speech could include a bill to replace the current apprenticeship levy with a skills and growth levy and set about establishing Skills England.

Jacqui Smith CV

1997-2010: Labour MP for Redditch

2005-2006: Minister for schools and 14-19 education, Department for Education and Skills

2006-2007: Government chief whip

2007-2009: Home secretary

2013-2021: Chair, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust

2018-2024: Presenter, For The Many podcast

2021-2024: Chair, Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust & Barts Health NHS Trust

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One comment

  1. Phillip Hatton

    Good to see someone who will hopefully cut through some of the problems surrounding apprenticeships and help promote them to parents as the true career path for those not wanting to go to university. Also hope she reviews the future of BTECs and reintroduces the Traineeship or a Foundation Apprenticeship, both of which are great routes into apprenticeships for those who are not yet ready. Good luck in a hugely important role.