From education to employment

£28bn contributed to national economy by colleges

The contribution of past and present learners studying at further education colleges was roughly £28 billion in added income to the national economy in 2006/07 alone, according to research institute EMSI.

The study into the economic impact of colleges, to mark day three of Colleges Week, a celebration of colleges’ role in unlocking talent in communities and transforming the lives of learners, shows colleges return much more to taxpayers than they cost. It found that for every pound invested by government in colleges, the taxpayer sees a return on investment of £1.70.

David Collins, President of the Association of Colleges (AoC), said: "As we mark the first Colleges Week, this research shows clearly that England’s Further Education colleges are a sound investment from multiple perspectives. Colleges enrich the lives of learners and increase their lifetime incomes and they benefit taxpayers by generating increased tax revenues from an enlarged economy and reduced demand for taxpayer-supported social services."

The survey also highlighted that the socio-economic advantages extend far beyond local economies through purchases, staff wages and an improvement in learners skills.

The taxpayer was found to avoid the cost of roughly £89 in social costs due to the effects of learning at colleges on cutting crime, health and unemployment problems. This included reduced expenditure for security and property damage, lower take up levels of Jobseekers Allowance and savings to the NHS.

Individuals who invest time and sacrifice short-term earnings to achieve a college qualification can also expect to see a ten per cent return on their investment in the long term. This amount is more than the 6.25 per cent potentially gained by investing in the current leading ISA on the market.

Skills Secretary John Denham said: "Colleges are not just a foundation of the countrys economy, but also an investment in the nations future. The government will invest £4.7 billion in further education and training this year and its vital that we understand not just the role they play in unlocking an individuals talent, but also how pivotal they are in building strong communities economically and socially."

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