In Gordon Brown’s Cabinet re-organisation, the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) was replaced by two Government departments. Ed Balls heads the Department for Children, Schools and Families, which is responsible for pre-19 education and family and children policy, while responsibility for the development and funding of further and higher education is the remit of the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS), led by former Home Office minister, John Denman.
According to Mr Brown’s written statement to Parliament, the DIUS will make Britain: ‘one of the best places in the world for science, research and innovation.’
Comment: Yet again, the corporate learning sector – with its e-learning component alone estimated to be worth over £300m a year in the UK – is shown to be ‘not on the Government’s radar’ since it falls outside the remit of both of these two departments.
This indicates that there will be no regulation of what is a highly de-regulated industry. For example, there is no compulsion or incentive for organisations to help their staff develop new knowledge and skills and, while there are plenty of standards – from SCORM to TAP (or the BCS’s ACTT) – their very proliferation argues against any one set of standards being commonly adopted. This may allow ‘creativity’ to flourish among producers but it makes buyers cautious, preventing widespread adoption.
Of course, the emergence of two Government departments where there was one before might suggest that it’s preferable to be invisible to Government. Where Brown’s new Government is concerned, there’s more than a whiff of truth in the comment widely attributed to Caius Petronius and made around 66AD: ‘We trained hard but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams, we would be reorganised…We tend to meet any new situation by reorganising and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency and demoralisation’.