Sir Michael Barber reappointed as government skills adviser

Public administration supremo to stay in role for another 6 months

Public administration supremo to stay in role for another 6 months

19 Jun 2023, 13:04

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The government has extended Sir Michael Barber’s role as a skill policy adviser.

The public administration supremo was announced as an unpaid adviser on skills reform implementation by the chancellor in November 2022 for a six-month term.

A Treasury spokesperson said today that “given the importance of the skills agenda and the need to maximise impact”, the chancellor and education secretary had decided to extend Barber’s role for a second term until December 16, 2023.

Little information has been published about Barber’s advice in the skills policy arena, but he told FE Week earlier this year that there will be no major “Barber Review of Skills Reform”.

His advice to the Treasury and Department for Education is more focused on delivery mechanisms – making what policies the sector has now work better.

The major reforms Barber is advising on include T Levels, boosting apprenticeships, approving Higher Technical Qualifications, rolling out skills bootcamps, and introducing the Lifelong Learning Entitlement from 2025.

Barber’s work was discussed at a meeting of the Department for Education’s board in February 2023.

Minutes from the meeting, published today, said Barber is advising the education secretary and the chancellor on five themes: “Skills delivery, a change in society’s perception of skills, the use of data to enable delivery of skills, careers information in secondary and tertiary education spaces, and a whole-of-government approach to skills.”

Barber has served in a number of roles within government, including as chief adviser to the education secretary from 1997 to 2001, head of the prime minister’s delivery unit from 2001 to 2005, chair of the Office for Students from 2018 to 2021, and led a review of the Number 10 delivery unit in 2021.

Outside of government, he has been a partner at McKinsey and head of their global education practice, and chief education adviser at Pearson.

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