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Jon Kennard


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News: Heads of coalition apprenticeship schemes resign


The heads of both of the Coalition Government’s flagship multi-billion pound apprenticeship schemes have resigned on the same day.
Geoff Russell, who heads up the Skills Funding Agency, and Simon Waugh, who was chief executive of the National Apprenticeship Service, both announced today that they plan to step down.
Russell, who will leave his post in the summer, told the BBC that he had informed the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills of his intentions last August, but had agreed to stay in the job for a year - although no successor has been proclaimed as yet.
After having “completed his task” of setting up the SFA, which handles the Government’s skills budget, Russell said: “It is time to move on” and “return to retirement”.
Training providers have accused the SFA of misusing public money and an inquiry into its activities is due to start next month. But a private letter, which Russell sent last May to Skills Minister John Hayes and which the broadcaster has seen, warned that the misuse of public funds was “likely to increase in the context of funding challenges and greater levels of sub-contracting”.
Hayes also announced a review into the quality and duration of all apprenticeship schemes in December and a major select committee inquiry is likewise taking place.
Waugh, meanwhile, said that he would be leaving his job as head of NAS, which is responsible for promoting apprenticeships to employers as well as boosting participant numbers, because he wanted to spend more time with his family.
“I have achieved all that I set out to do when I joined NAS, and after the considerable success of the past three years, I believe that this is a good time to move on,” he said.
A BIS spokesman likewise said in a statement that the two men had “made their decisions independently and for different and personal reasons”.
“Both planned to make the announcements together to ensure that staff and the sector were provided with the full picture,” he added.
But Shadow Skills Minister Gordon Marsden said that the simultaneous announcement was “unexpected” and was “bound to raise serious questions and concerns in the sector as to the future delivery of apprenticeships”.

Author Profile Picture
Jon Kennard

Freelance writer

Read more from Jon Kennard

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