Ex-academic Stephen Byers joined the expanded shadow employment and education team this week as Labour completed its front bench appointments.
Mr Byers, 42, has been employment whip for the past year and will be responsible for training issues, working with Bryan Davies, who retains the further and higher education brief. Only hours into the job, he was reluctant to be specific. "I am thinking of questions which will expose what is going on in training," he said.
Next week he will make a submission to the Nolan inquiry on standards in public life about the activities of Training and Enterprise Councils. As MP for Wallsend since 1992, he is regarded as one of the most effective members of a talented Labour intake. A persistent critic of the assisted places scheme and school opt-outs, he was chairman of the Education Committee of the Association of Metropolitan Authorities from 1990 to 1992.
A law graduate from Liverpool Polytechnic (now Liverpool John Moores University), he lectured in the subject at Newcastle Polytechnic (now the University of Northumbria) from 1975 to 1992. In February 1993 he argued that the education system had been seen as a failure because "academic education is reserved for the most able pupils while vocational education is for the less able".
The other newcomer in David Blunkett's front-bench team is Estelle Morris, MP since 1992 for Birmingham Yardley, who will look after school standards issues.