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Workforce crisis shows colleges must invest in staff and increase pay

Jo Grady, UCU general secretary

University and College Union (@UCU) has today (Friday) said that colleges must invest in their staff and pay them fairly if the current workforce crisis is to be reversed.

The union was responding to a report from the further education employer body, the Association of Colleges (AoC), which describes the current crisis as the worst in decades, with an estimated 6000 job vacancies in England increasing the pressure on current staff.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said:

‘This report clearly demonstrates the consequences of underfunding the college sector with 6,000 posts lying empty and a yawning chasm in pay remaining between those who teach in our colleges and school teachers.

‘However, college leaders are not blameless in all of this. They have repeatedly used a lack of government funding as an excuse to hold down staff pay, but even after recent increases in funding for colleges, refused to offer staff any more than a paltry 1%.

‘It is little wonder there is a workforce crisis in English colleges when staff pay has fallen by more than 35% in real-terms since 2009. Employers can and must pay staff more and the government must ensure increases in funding are sustained and not one offs. Failure to do so will leave the blame for the continued recruitment and retention crisis at the feet of both college leadership and government.’

In a joint pay claim submitted last year, unions called for an increase in pay that moves to restore the 35% real term cut in pay staff have suffered since 2009.

The claim would also close the £9,000 pay gap between schoolteachers and further education lecturers.

However, employers represented by AoC, recommended just a 1% pay rise for all staff, despite unions campaigning with employers to win additional government funding for the sector. Inflation and cost of living is also at a ten year high.

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