Employment and skills commission waits for word on budget and staffing as launch date approaches

The government has still not agreed staff numbers or a budget for the new Commission for Employment and Skills despite there being under six months to go until its launch.

Responding to a written question in Parliament last week,employment minister Caroline Flint said the government was “not yet in a position to be able to give defined numbers and therefore an agreed budget”.

The commission was at an “early stage” of development and numbers had to be agreed with departments and senior officials within the new body, Flint said.

The Commission for Employment and Skills was a chief recommendation of the Leitch Review. It will start work in April 2008 and replaces many functions of the Sector Skills Development Agency and the National Employment Panel.

Sir Michael Rake, chairman of business services firm KPMG, will chair the new body and advise ministers on skills strategy and policies. The commission will also have a major say on whether skills training should become mandatory for employers in 2010.

Critics have labelled the new commission a “rebadging exercise”, and fear it will add another layer of bureau­cracy to the overly complex skills system.

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