We recorded Skills Minister Anne Milton's opening speech at the Association of Colleges (AoC) annual conference.
During her speech Mrs Milton said: “further education is central to the challenge of delivering a prosperous future after Brexit”.
The Minister discusses the importance or WorldSkills, how her trip to Abu Dhabi made a massive difference to her and how the competition should be more widely shared to showcase the expertise and excellence in the sector. She also shared that we are not alone and that other nations across the World are struggling with Skills shortages.
She explained how she will continually lobby for additional support for the sector and the importance of collaborative working within the sector, rather than working in competition. She acknowledges the active role that colleges have in the industrial strategy and achieving World class FE Provision. She also shared that she regularly meets with FE Commissioner Richard Atkins to look for continual improvement and the importance of Ofsted to identify improvements in the sector.
Please click on the speech below to hear what she had to say:
In response, David Hughes, Chief Executive of the AoC said: “The Minister has rightly identified that further education colleges must be at the heart of Government policy in a post-Brexit Britain. Across England, colleges provide high quality technical and professional education to 2.2 million every year. The Minister also rightly highlights how colleges are central to the Government’s ambition to extending opportunity and unlocking ambition for everyone. Our colleges are at the heart of the community and positively transform lives.
“However, despite a clear and personal commitment and passion for and support for our sector, colleges are struggling. Over recent years we have seen real term cuts in funding which inhibit the support and training colleges can offer and which people need. To survive and thrive after Brexit, colleges need to have more and secure investment. We need fairer funding for 16 to 18-year-olds; we need support for adults who want to retrain; we need capital investment to ensure our colleges have the latest facilities and equipment which match the best in the world; and we need to attract the best professionals to teach our future workforce.
“This is not a quick fix. The Minister has said she has been banging on the door of Treasury for funding and will lobby for more money for the sector. I hope she’s a great lobbyist and that she and we achieve a positive result in next week’s Budget.”