Champion for apprenticeships and skills Robert Halfon ‘will be missed’


Robert Halfon – a “passionate” advocate for apprenticeships, further education and skills – will be missed from Parliament, sector leaders have said.

The skills, apprenticeships and higher education minister is stepping down from the Government and will quit his role as an MP before the next general election.

Mr Halfon, who has been a Tory MP in Harlow in Essex since 2010, first became the apprenticeships and skills minister in the summer of 2016, but he was dismissed by then-prime minister Theresa May a year later.

He then became chairman of the Commons Education Select Committee for five years – between 2017 and 2022 – where he was an advocate of further education (FE), apprenticeships and skills.

Mr Halfon returned to the Department for Education (DfE) as the apprenticeships and skills minister, with the additional job of higher education, in October 2022.

Following his unexpected resignation on Tuesday, David Hughes, chief executive of the Association of Colleges (AoC), said: “I am sorry to hear of Robert Halfon’s resignation as the skills minister.”

He said the MP had been a “passionate champion for further education, skills and apprenticeships” during his time in Parliament.

Mr Hughes added: “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.

“His drive to promote inclusion and to back further education will be missed.”

Former Conservative education secretary Lord Kenneth Baker, chair of Baker Dearing Educational Trust, said: “I would like to pay tribute to Robert Halfon, who has been a continuous and tremendous supporter of technical education including University Technical Colleges throughout his time in Parliament.

“From Level 1 courses to degree apprenticeships, he has pushed the Government to make better skills policy in his roles as an MP, as chair of the Education Select Committee, and as a minister.

“We are sad to lose him as a champion in Parliament. The House of Commons will be poorer without his expertise and passion for changing young people’s lives and for helping them climb the ladder of opportunity.”

Vanessa Wilson, chief executive of the University Alliance, described Mr Halfon as a “passionate advocate for apprenticeships and lifelong learning”.

She said: “The work he’s done to support the growth of degree apprenticeships has been invaluable to professional and technical universities, learners and employers.

“We know he’ll continue to make valuable contributions from the backbenches in the coming months.”



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