London’s mayor pairs skills with business in new appointment

Howard Dawber will take over from Jules Pipe, who has overseen skills for eight years

Howard Dawber will take over from Jules Pipe, who has overseen skills for eight years

London’s deputy mayor for business is taking on the capital’s £402 million skills budget, following a reshuffle of Sadiq Khan’s top team.

Khan announced last Friday that his recently appointed deputy mayor for business and growth, Howard Dawber, will oversee the capital’s skills and adult education spending – the largest budget of any devolved authority in the country.

The move pairs skills with business after eight years under Jules Pipe, who was also deputy mayor for planning and regeneration.

However, it is unclear why Dawber’s job title does not include “skills”, despite the brief being the largest of the Greater London Authority’s (GLA) budget areas and four times larger than the mayor’s £102 million business and economy budget.

A spokesperson for Khan did not respond to questions about the title, but said pairing the two briefs would require “close collaboration” between London’s businesses and training providers.

“The mayor will continue to champion adult learning and build on his previous success in this area to support even more people to attain the skills they need to acquire good jobs,” the spokesperson added.

Dawber was a managing director at the Canary Wharf Group until 2022 and has an advisory role at the University of East London’s business school.

In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, he said he met with shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson this week to talk about Labour’s plans for “skills and future reform”.

The GLA has had responsibility for the capital’s skills spending since 2019, following devolution of the adult education budget from Whitehall.

According to the GLA’s most up-to-date statistics, there were 230,000 funded learners in London in the 2022-23 academic year, up from 213,000 in 2019-20.

An external review of its skills policies between 2019 and 2022, published last summer, found the capital “performed well” in learner participation and enrolments, which have increased 10 per cent.

Areas that are managed directly by the Department for Education have increased 2 per cent.

Pipe, who is now deputy mayor for planning, regeneration and the fire service, said it had been a “pleasure to work with stakeholders and partners across the adult education sector over the last eight years and to have played a part in delivering skills programmes that support Londoners”.

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One comment

  1. Trevor Hirst

    Learner numbers, participation and enrolment numbers can be useful stats, but can also be misleading and easy to manipulate, with shrinkflation (short, bite-size, modular and crossing academic years etc)

    Learner hours is really useful to help flesh out the volumes, value for money and depth of learning, but for some reason fell by the wayside.

    More people taking more frequent and smaller sips from a shrinking reservoir. Just, don’t mention the water and gloss over that they are increasingly thirsty!