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Robert Halfon resigns as skills minister

Robert Halfon has resigned as minister for skills, apprenticeships and higher education and plans to stand down as an MP.

His decision comes ahead of this year’s general election.

Halfon, the MP for Harlow in Essex, became skills minister for the first time in 2016 but was sacked a year later by then-prime minister Theresa May.

He moved on to become chair of the education select committee, serving for five years, before returning to the skills brief, with the additional job of higher education, in the Department for Education in October 2022.

It is not clear at this stage who will replace Halfon as skills minister.

The frontbencher has become well-known for his “ladder of opportunity” catchphrase and has presided over policies such as T-levels, the government’s review of level 3 qualifications, careers education and 16 to 19 education funding.

He has also championed government plans for a new degree apprenticeship route into teaching.

Speaking at the Annual Apprenticeships Conference last month, Halfon said he was “most proud of evangelising about apprenticeships” in his time as minister.

He added that even with reforms like the Baker clause, “I want even more done in schools, even now”.

‘His drive to back FE will be missed’

Association of Colleges chief executive David Hughes said Halfon’s “drive to promote inclusion and to back further education will be missed”.

“He has been a passionate champion for further education, skills and apprenticeships throughout his tenure as chair of the education select committee, and as minister, bringing to the roles a commitment to colleges and to understand from students and apprentices as much he can about what works for them.

“I am confident that he will continue to be a passionate supporter of our sector and a fervent advocate of students and their needs when his time as an MP comes to an end.”

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