From education to employment

College teacher pay is a roadblock to the Government’s skills agenda

David Hughes, Chief Executive, Association of Colleges

The Education Secretary has been urged to ask the Treasury for extra funds to boost college teachers’ pay to ensure the Government is able to proceed with its ambitious skills reform programme.

In a letter to Nadhim Zahawi, the Association of College’s chief executive David Hughes has highlighted there is a risk to the rollout of T Levels and Higher Technical Qualifications, as well as ambitions to boost apprenticeships, because colleges are struggling to retain and attract top talent to teach the skills needed to fill gaps in shortage sectors across the economy.

David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, said:

“The Government’s skills revolution is in danger of stalling because, ironically, colleges cannot compete in the tightest labour market on record. At the very time colleges need to be training more people for the increasing number of skilled vacancies, they find themselves unable to pay enough to attract and retain talented, experienced and skilled people themselves.  

“In his landmark skills speech at Exeter College two years ago, the Prime Minister linked his commitment to support colleges and his ambitions on the levelling-up agenda while acknowledging the central role for colleges in filling skills gaps in priority areas including health, engineering, construction, hospitality and logistics across the country and boosting productivity.

“Colleges want to deliver but are not being given the funding they need to do it. Quite simply, in order to provide the next generation with the skills they need to succeed in industry and to meet labour market needs, you need highly skilled individuals teaching them. The gap between what these teachers could earn in industry, or even in schools, compared to working in a college is now at crisis point, limiting capacity just when colleges need to grow numbers.

“I urge the Education Secretary to make representations to the Treasury about the enormous funding pressures colleges are under and to use the department’s recent work in schools, which underlined the impact of pay differentials on staffing, as the basis for boosting college teachers’ pay.”

In March, the Association of Colleges highlighted that as it stands, teachers in schools are currently paid over £9,000 more than college lectures on average, despite many college lecturers being more specialist and having brought real-life industry experience to their roles. The Association of Colleges has previously stressed in a letter to the Education Secretary in March that colleges are suffering their worst staffing crisis in two decades.

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