Barbara Spicer, who only `quit' (depending on the version of events you believe) Salford City Council last month, has re-appeared as `interim' Chief Executive of the Skills Funding Agency.
Spicer, who vacated her £208,000 total salary package job as Chief Executive of the Council at the end of October (see here and see here) is believed to have received a huge pay-off which still hasn't been disclosed.
Spicer follows the Council's £134,000 Strategic Director, Martin Vickers, who resigned in August with a pay-off believed to be £78,000, and re-appeared weeks later with a job at Salford Red Devils (see here and see here).
Skills Minister Matthew Hancock announced Spicer's appointment as interim Chief Exec, filling in while the current head of the Skills Funding Agency, Kim Thorneywork, is absent due to ill health.
Referring to Spicer, he said "Her wealth of knowledge and experience will be a valuable asset to the Agency, ensuring that quality and reform is driven forward in the sector…"
Hopefully, top of Barbara Spicer's agenda will be the plight of hundreds of Salford apprentices and their tutors caught up in the takeover of Vital Services Group companies by the Morson Group, and whose jobs are still not safe.
The Salford Star reported last week how around two hundred apprentices working and training in Salford for jobs on the railways were sent home after the Morson Group cherry picked companies of the ailing Vital Services Group but left the apprentices and their trainers in limbo (see full details – click here).
Since the article appeared the apprentices have received pay they were owed and are back at work – but their jobs are still not safe, while some of their trainers have been laid off. There has been no clarification from either the Skills Funding Agency, the Morson Group or Vital Skills Training on the long term status of the apprentices and their trainers, despite Skills Funding Agency payments to Vital Skills Training of over £400,000.
The whole episode has been incredibly embarrassing for Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, who opened Vital's new training centre at the Soapworks last July.
Indeed, the Salford Star has recently received more information on the quality of training the apprentices are being given, and the use of Skills Funding Agency payments within the apprenticeship scheme. If Barbara Spicer would like to investigate, the Star would be very happy to pass this information on.
Meanwhile, on being anointed Chief Exec of the Agency yesterday Barbara Spicer said: "For me skills are a critical part of our economic policy and being part of a system that makes such an important contribution to our economic success will be both personally exciting and challenging.
"I want to support the ambitious reform agenda and work with the sector to continue to focus directly on the current needs of employers, the skills that the UK will need in the future, and how we connect our individual learners to those needs" she added.
Well, she can start by banging some corporate heads together and giving these Salford apprentices a cast iron guarantee that their jobs and apprenticeships are safe.