Government to review key FE and skills body

Posted on 2 Nov 2011 by The Manufacturer

The government has launched a review into the Skills Funding Agency, the public body in charge of funding adult further education and skills training in England.

Skills Minister, John Hayes, who made the announcement yesterday, will review the body and the statutory post of chief executive of skills.

The review, run in line with the Cabinet Office’s Public Bodies Review Programme, will aim to undertake a regular evaluation of its key delivery bodies.

Speaking to The Manufacturer, Elizabeth Bonfield, head of business development at EAL, outlined what she hoped the review would bring: “It’s crucial that employer needs and the challenges facing the industry workforce are kept firmly in mind during the review. Any changes should be aimed at allowing positive steps to tackle the skills gap and achieve the growth that is needed to boost the economy. For example, last month’s proposals for a new, streamlined funding system for adult skills talk about providing greater flexibility and freeing resources for colleges and training providers to work with local employers and their workforce.

“At the same time, however, it’s important for any funding changes to be carefully considered, clearly explained and given time to implement to avoid creating an added burden, both for employers and providers.”

The regulating body, SFA, spends around £4bn per year on colleges and training organisations that provide training for adults in England.

Philip Whiteman, chief executive of Semta, told The Manufacturer: “It is a great opportunity for the Skills Funding Agency strategy to be more aligned with employer requirements. We agree with the UK Commission for Employment and Skills’ thinking that the funding of vocational qualifications should be less important than getting employers the training they need to compete and grow.”

After the coalition scrapped numerous quangos in education since coming into power in May of last year, fears have surfaced that the SFA could be about to see the same fate.

The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) said the outcome of the review would be announced “in due course”.