Catering instead of Shakespeare: The place of skills education

The return of Nick Gibb sends a clear message about where the government thinks skills education should sit, but the idea that young people can suddenly switch on to skills after 12 years of academic study is flawed, says Geoff Barton

An interesting footnote to the Autumn Statement was the appointment of Sir Michael Barber to advise on skills reform.

Sir Michael was head of Tony Blair’s delivery unit in the early 2000s and is a hugely respected figure in education circles. His appointment signals a focus on skills which is welcome both in terms of creating opportunities for young people and boosting the economy.

It is a direction also indicated by the appointment as education secretary of Gillian Keegan, a former minister for apprenticeships and skills, and herself a former apprentice.

All very encouraging. The question mark, however, is what the government has in mind when it talks of skills reform. The Autumn Statement suggests that it is quite limited. Here’s what it says:

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