The Skills Funding Agency and further education funding - Business, Innovation and Skills Committee Contents

5  Conclusion

119. In this short, focused inquiry we have considered the new structures which the Government has put in place to administer further education. While the transition from the Learning and Skills Council to the Skills Funding Agency appears to have been well managed, the result has been the creation of an even more complex structure. The relationships and lines of communication between the large number of delivery partners with oversight by two Government Departments will need to be closely managed and monitored. "Hiding the wiring" of such a large bureaucracy from those it serves is going to be a challenging task for all concerned. It must never be forgotten that complexity and repeated organisational change almost inevitably deter the users of any public service, and this is especially true of those most in need of help from those services, in this case learners and smaller businesses.

120. We wish the new system success, but have grave concerns that the increased complexity may prove to be both cumbersome and unwieldy. Ultimately the success of the SFA and its ability to deliver the demand-led service for adult skills will be judged not on the efficiency of the component parts of the new structure but on the ability of colleges to provide a responsive service to learners and business.

121. The fact that the reorganisation appears to owe more to changes in the Machinery of Government—the separation of education between two Government Departments—than to any inherent logic or desirability gives us particular cause for concern. The two new organisations may work perfectly well but the unanswered question will be whether it would not have been preferable from the point of view of the people and organisations that really matter in all this—colleges, learners and businesses—to stick with the devil they knew, which was the Learning and Skills Council.

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