'I am proud and privileged to have been given the opportunity to take up this great challenge.
'I will put all my efforts into transforming: opportunities for young people in education and training; and, the employability and independence of millions of men and women.
'Over the weeks ahead, I will have the opportunity to spell out in greater detail the timetable for implementing our policies and for genuine consultation through the issuing of White Papers on the key areas of both education and employment.
'This entails a re-think at every level about: the jobs being done; the way that the department relates both to individuals and the wider world; and, the challenges of a new government in the run up to a new century.
'Work on this task will begin immediately. I will be discussing with officials how the department will work and how we will reshape priorities to achieve the goals that we have set ourselves.
'This will be a very different government, in both style and substance. In education we will seek to unite, build a consensus and rally all the talent and experience within our country and elsewhere to achieving our goals and lifting standards.
'In employment we will provide a framework so we can work in partnership - public and private contributing together - to ensure that we have a workforce which is equipped for the new millennium; and to increase the potential for job security. 'Our policies will be geared to ensuring that our nation is able to learn and earn its way, so that Britain is able to compete in the years ahead, equipped for the technological revolution, whilst at the same time being mindful of the needs of others and the crucial importance of building strong communities in a caring society.
'On a personal note I am asking all those who contact me or the department to do so in print rather than in Braille or on tape. I well understand that people believe this to be helpful and I appreciate that often a lot of time and trouble has been taken to present material in this way. However, in order to allow us to deal with matters in an orderly fashion, I would like people to forget that I cannot see and continue to deal with the department in the normal way. I am requesting that they take a leaf out of my own book which is to approach this job as would any other incoming secretary of state and allow the department to work with me in overcoming any practical problems.'
-- Mr Blunkett yesterday welcomed the appointment of Andrew Smith MP, Baroness Blackstone and Stephen Byers MP as ministers of state in his department. Mr Blunkett said: 'I am delighted to have three such talented and knowledgeable colleagues joining me at the department.
'Andrew Smith the minister for employment, has wide experience in economic affairs and a keen interest in employment issues.
'He will be playing a central role in developing and putting in place our welfare to work programme which will transform employment and training opportunities particularly for young people. Andrew is already hard at work. There is much to be done and we will be making announcements in the very near future.
'Baroness Blackstone the minister for education and employment in the House of Lords, has extensive experience in education and employment issues and is widely respected for her vision. Her knowledge will be an enormous asset to the team over the coming months as we translate words into action.
'Stephen Byers the minister for school standards, has demonstrated a substantial commitment to education over the years. His grass-roots work with the local authorities, schools and teachers make him the ideal choice to carry forward our work on standards and effectiveness in partnership with the education service.'