Stephen van Rooyen, EVP & CEO, UK and Europe at Sky

Today (13 Nov), @EducationGovUK have announced six new board members for the Skills and Productivity Board (SPB).

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

“I’m delighted to announce the appointment of six expert board members to our Skills and Productivity Board (SPB). They bring a wealth of technical expertise in economics and labour markets and will play a vital role in helping to tackle the nation’s skills challenges.

“Now, more than ever, we need a world class skills system that provides opportunity across the country. I look forward to working with the board to deliver our ambitious agenda and help rebuild our economy after the pandemic.”

The Skills and Productivity Board is an expert committee providing independent, evidence-based advice to ministers at the Department for Education on matters relating to skills and their contribution to productivity.

The board provides expert advice on skills mismatches and how to make sure the courses and qualifications on offer across the country:

  • are aligned to the needs of employers
  • will help grow our economy after the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Members carry out both technical analysis of data sources such as earnings, and more qualitative sources such as stakeholder interviews, policy reviews, and academic research. The board will consider wider government policy priorities as well as productivity.

Their advice will help government to identify the training which best equips people for work in the future. It will provide:

  • an authoritative, independent view of labour market issues including which skills add particular value
  • a national overview, as well as focusing on particular areas within the economy

Board members

The current members are:

  • Stephen van Rooyen (Chair) - EVP and CEO, UK and Ireland, Sky Limited
  • Arun Advani - Assistant Professor University of Warwick, Fellow at the Institute of Fiscal Studies
  • Claire Crawford - Reader in Economics University of Birmingham
  • Andrew Dickerson - Professor of Economics University of Sheffield and Director of Sheffield Methods Institute
  • Ewart Keep - Emeritus Professor in Education, Training and Skills Department of Education Oxford University
  • Grace Lordan - Associate Professor at London School of Economics (LSE) and Founding Director of the Inclusion Initiative
  • Sir Christopher Pissarides - Regius Professor of Economics at LSE

The board is supported by a secretariat of Department for Education officials.

The Secretary of State for Education has written to the Chair of the SPB, Stephen van Rooyen, outlining the vision of the board.


Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announced that Stephen van Rooyen will be chair of the Skills and Productivity Board in September (29).

The SPB – which was first announced in October 2019 – will play a central role in driving forward the government’s ambitious FE reform programme. The Board will provide expert advice on how to make sure the courses and qualifications on offer to students across the country are high-quality, and aligned to the skills that employers need for the future and that will help grow our economy after the coronavirus outbreak.

Stephen van Rooyen was selected as Chair of the SPB due to his extensive business experience, and as a thought leader in technology, engineering and communications. In Stephen’s current role as EVP and CEO, UK and Europe at Sky he has been a strong advocate for apprenticeships, launching ambitious schemes across technology, journalism and business functions.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

I’m delighted to announce the appointment of Stephen van Rooyen as the chair of the Skills and Productivity Board.

Stephen has a wealth of experience across the technology, engineering and communications sectors and will be able to share his vital insight and leadership with the panel. He also a keen and proud champion of apprentices, having taken Sky’s apprenticeship programme from strength to strength.

He will lead an expert panel who will provide important advice on how to tackle the nation’s skill challenges. The board will play a key role in helping us to rebuild our economy post-Covid-19 and deliver our bold skills agenda. I look forward to working with him to level up opportunity across the country ensuring people have the skills they need to progress.

Stephen van Rooyen, EVP & CEO, UK and Europe at Sky said:

Given the pace of change in business and in workplaces today, and the economic challenges of COVID, the new Skills and Productivity Board has a key role to play in developing our skills economy for current and future generations. It is a privilege to contribute, and I’m looking forward to working with the panel and the government to drive this important agenda

The work of the SPB will be carried out by a panel of five leading skills and labour market economists, supported by Department for Education officials. The panel will undertake independent research and analysis in response to questions set out by the Secretary of State and Chair. Applications for panel members closed earlier this month and appointments will be made in due course.

The government’s forthcoming FE White Paper will set out detailed plans to build a high-quality further education system – one that unlocks potential, levels up skills and boosts opportunities for people across the country.

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