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Wales Cannot Tackle Skills Gap Unless College Funding Improves

Assembly Members were warned that unless colleges are funded on a par with school sixth forms and other post-16 providers – Wales will never be in a position to tackle the skills gap.

fforwm, the Association of Colleges in Wales, have informed members of the National Assemblys education and lifelong learning committee that a level playing field in post-16 education is long overdue. fforwm claim that there is a need for a unified funding system for all post-16 providers including colleges, school sixth forms and private training providers. The array of funding streams within the current system, fforwm claims, leads to confusion and also facilitates duplication and competition.

Dr John Graystone added: “Colleges currently deliver 70% of ELWas provision but receive only 50% of ELWas funding – this is not a desirable position for colleges or students.We also want to make clear that it is fundamental that a level playing field is applied across the board. If the new funding system is based on data, it seems logical that schools and colleges share the same data systems to ensure transparency.”

fforwms delegation presenting to the committee, included fforwms vice chair Glyn Jones and Brian Robinson, member of fforwms board and principal of Coleg Sir Gar who said:”The pivotal role played by colleges in delivering 16-19 education and training is often underestimated. For example Coleg Sir Gar has 2,500 full time 16-19 year olds compared with around 1,400 students in the eleven school sixth forms in the area. There has to be scope for more collaboration and this system should facilitate this.”

fforwm have praised ELWas transparency and inclusive consultation process and are hopeful that the sectors recommendations for improving the system have been taken on board, Dr John Graystone added:”We are aware that ELWa have revised the formula although we dont know what individual colleges can expect to get following these revisions.There were clear winners and losers under the original proposals and we hope that the amendments will secure less divergence across the sector.

Greystone continued, “We do welcome the generous lead in time provided by ELWa and acknowledge that this provides both colleges and schools with sufficient time to effectively plan for the new settlements.”

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