What do Theresa May’s changes mean for higher education?

Theresa May began her career as Prime Minister in full swing, making radical changes within her first few days.  Changes that have caught our eye here at Aspire Training Team are those to the education and skills departments, but what does this mean for young people, as well as employers?


A number of new appointments have been made, namely Justine Greening has been announced as the new Secretary of State for Education.  Under Ms Greening, the Department for Education (DfE) will broaden its responsibilities taking on further and higher education, apprenticeships and wider skills policy, which has previously been the responsibility of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).


This means that the whole journey of a person’s education and work will start and finish with the same department, opposed to DfE having academic responsibility until the age of 18 and then the BIS taking over and managing the next steps in terms of technical qualifications, work experience and skills.  This will also mean a closer working relationship between the Education Funding Agency (EFA), under DfE, and the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) under BIS.


A unified body to work through a person’s whole education and career journey will mean a unified agenda, with the new DfE already committing that they will continue towards their existing aims of “leading the government’s drive to give all children the chance to get the best possible education at school”.  They will now also tackle to “reform the higher education sector to boost competition and continue to improve the quality of education that students receive.”


Apprenticeships will now also fall under their remit and with the resignation of Skills Minister Nick Boles, they have pledged to move forward with his work and “deliver more apprenticeships through fundamental change in the UK’s approach to skills in the workplace.”  The resignation of Mr Boles does call into question the solidity of the future plans for the apprenticeship levy, due to be launched in April 2017.  The next stage of details, including the proposed funding bands and proposed government support for non-levy paying employers, were due to be announced on 14th July, however with his resignation these are now in the balance.  The recently announced Post-16 Skills Plan will also be something the new Secretary of State for Education may wish to review, despite it only being announced last week.


The importance of keeping the existing links with industry that have been formed under the BIS must be maintained in order to continue with the plan to achieve 3 million apprenticeships by 2020, and this will now form part of the Department for Education.


If you’re an employer considering hiring an apprentice and you have questions about the future of apprenticeships or training programmes you currently run in light of these changes, you can contact Aspire Training Team on 01202 551553 or email info@aspiretrainingteam.co.uk.

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