The Conservative Party have announced plans to put £1.8bn into capital for a further education colleges rebuild programme as part of a ‘skills revolution’.
"Our ambition is to unlock the whole nation's potential" said Boris Johnson at his first election speech for the Conservative Party.
"As we leave the EU, we will insist that all big public sector projects must hire British apprentices."
Association of Colleges is the national voice for colleges, representing around 93% of England’s further education colleges.
Chief Executive of AoC, David Hughes said:
"I am very pleased to see that Boris Johnson has retained his commitment to colleges and to post-16 education in today’s announcement. He was clear on his first day in office as Prime Minister that colleges are vital to our nation, and today he has backed that with a pledge to offer long overdue investment in their buildings and facilities. That will be great news for the 2.2 million people who study and train in colleges every year and who deserve the best facilities.
"Capital investment was one of our five proposals for the next government in our manifesto for this election because funding cuts have made it tough to find the budget to invest in their buildings, and too much of the college estate is not good enough. This funding would help colleges have buildings and facilities which provide the best environment for students to work in and give colleges greater ability to plan and invest over the long term.
"I am also pleased to see a pledge to ensure that the new Shared Prosperity Fund will start in time to replace EU funding. The EU funds have been effective in helping adults access the skills training they need to find work, and colleges have been central to delivering that. A simpler, easy to access fund would be good news for colleges and for the adults they serve.
"I hope that this is just the first announcement by the Prime Minister, because as well as capital, colleges need more funding to support young people and adults to get the education and training they deserve and will need in a rapidly changing world. It's encouraging to see politicians from all main parties recognising the vital role colleges play in communities and the economy. The inclusion of post-16 education in the political pledges is positive, whoever wins this election must make good on their promises."
AoC is asking all parliamentary candidates to sign up to the following five priorities:
- A new place for colleges with a streamlined regulatory regime which gives colleges a protected title that places colleges at the heart of the national infrastructure.
- Ensure no young person is left behind – colleges must be funded to offer engaging and motivating programmes for young people which also improve English and maths and address high needs.
- Commit to investment and long-term funding for colleges that strengthens institutions and develops the professional workforce
- A new lease of life for lifelong learning - that boosts opportunities for adults and apprentices across the country.
- Equal access to education and training - Maintenance support, increase in bursary fund, transport discounts, child benefit and mental health support for people from low income families.