From education to employment

Government and LSC launch 21 FE colleges this month

The Building Colleges for the Future programme has successfully helped 21 further education colleges open £335m of new state-of-the art buildings and technologies this month.

The programme represents the most significant building scheme ever undertaken by the Government, and is being supported by the Learning Skills Council. A total of £2.3bn has been earmarked for the programme, which aims to dramatically raise the number participating in further education.

Minister for Further Education Bill Rammell said: "In 1997 there was no dedicated capital budget for further education colleges. But thanks to the investment this Government is making in the sector there is now an exciting transformation taking place within the FE estate.

"These college openings are proof of the Government’s commitment to create world-class FE facilities that inspire learners and meet the needs of employers. Investing in FE is investing in the future productivity and competitiveness of the nation."

Building Colleges for the Future will improve more than 150 colleges, and their wider communities, across England. Epping Forest College, south west Essex, is due to open its £38m campus this month. It will provide the latest industry-standard equipment and resources, including a media centre with recording and photography studios, construction and motor vehicle workshops and the latest IT technology infrastructure.

Principal Peter Sadler said: "Whilst our core purpose has always been and will continue to be educating students, the new building will offer opportunities to all the community – from charities and community associations to businesses seeking to develop the skills base of their workforce."

The programme is also due to play a major role in achieving the Government’s environmental targets. It will ensure that all new colleges will be zero carbon by 2016, two years of the nationwide target for all new public buildings.

Chris Banks, Chair of the Learning and Skills Council, said: "Earlier this summer the National Audit Office reported that the Building Colleges for the Future programme is producing high quality facilities that meet the needs of colleges and learners.

"With 21 colleges opening new buildings, facilities and even campuses this month and with many more to open in the near future, I am certain this expenditure will have a positive impact on participation and attainment for learners.

"Businesses are also benefiting from the development of industry-standard training facilities, which is helping to shape the training of a new generation of skilled workers."

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