Gordon Brown and adult skills in the UK

I commented recently on Gordon Brown and skills. This is an addendum with plenty of references, now that it’s clear who will be responsible for skills.

So, plenty of  URLs here, and just a little comment. It’s a little early to pitch in just yet.

Who’s in charge of skills? 

There will be two ministries for skills. Their pecking order on the Labour web site may mean nothing, but DCSF comes just under the Chief whip, while DIUS is second from bottom:

Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) under Ed Balls

Arch Brownite Ed Balls was former economic adviser to Gordon Brown (who’d have that job?) and chief economic adviser to the treasury. His appointment shows the importance given to the DCSF, but on the other hand, one can’t imagine it will be long before he’s promoted to a more senior department.

Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) under John Denham

Responsible for adult skills, Denham’s team includes:

Minister of State – Bill Rammell MP
Minister of State – Ian Pearson MP
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – David Lammy MP
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Lord Triesman

His 2003 anti-Iraq revolt ensured a period outside government for Denham, who was well-regarded enough to have been a PUSS at the DSS in the May 1997 government, while Rammell is a safe pair of hands from the DfES, so that looks like a commitment to continuity. I am not familiar with the other names, but Kristofer Wilson, the blogging Nuneaton Conservative is damning about David Lammy.

What will DIUS do?

According to its new (and currently rather sparse) web site, the DIUS is on a mission:

The new Department will deliver the Government’s long-term vision to make Britain one of the best places in the world for science, research and innovation. It will ensure that the UK has the skilled workforce it needs to compete in the global economy.

So, the DIUS is responsible for developing adult skills for the knowledge economy. It will be in charge of the £4bn adult skills part of the Learning and Skills Council budget, take over Train to Gain and run the basic skills agenda.

And DIUS will also work with the independent Commission for Employment and Skills, formed by the merger of the National Employment Panel and the SSDA, as recommended by the Leitch Review. (That means a little less bureaucracy, by the way.)

Any Worries?

There are for colleges whose pupils are both children and adults, because they will fear falling between two stools and getting good service from neither DIUS nor DCSF.

Any Pluses?

The establishment of DIUS shows that adult skills have come way up the agenda since 1997 – and rightly so. As well as dealing with the low-skilled (this government’s traditional focus), it’s obviously aimed at ensuring a coherent adult skills policy for students and working adults alike.

At least that’s the theory – the question now is, can John Denham make it work?

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One response to “Gordon Brown and adult skills in the UK

  1. Pingback: UK skills in the news « Donald H Taylor

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