From education to employment

College Principal calls on Government to boost funding

students sat at computers

Barnsley College Principal and CEO, Yiannis Koursis OBE, is supporting the Mind the Skills Gap campaign in conjunction with the Future Skills Coalition, to urge decision-makers to increase funding for further education in the upcoming spring statement.

The College Principal issued a statement calling on the government to increase funding for colleges across the country, or risk putting the sector’s ability to respond to future skills shortages at risk.

This week he attended a parliamentary day of action, to show the College’s support to the campaign, where he met with education and training leaders in a bid to highlight the important role colleges play in shaping the future of our society and economy.

He has emphasised that increased government support is necessary to ensure that colleges can continue to provide high-quality education to students and be agile in their response to future skills needs

Colleges have been underfunded for more than a decade, with finances remaining below 2010 level, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Funding cuts have meant that real terms spending per pupil in 2024-25 will still be around 5% below 2010-11 levels. For adult students, this is 22% below 2009–10 levels.

Yiannis Koursis OBE said:

“The government must recognise the crucial role that colleges play in shaping the future of our society and economy. The funding we missed out on is crucial in ensuring we are able to continue transforming lives and building on the skills of our students, guaranteeing they leave College with the knowledge and skills necessary to access Higher Education or employment.

“I attended the Future Skills Coalition panel event that was held in Westminster, where I joined senior politicians, MPs, and other key stakeholders to discuss how the lack of funding impacts on the sector and wider economy.”

With job vacancies at near record levels of more than 1 million according to the Office for National Statistics, businesses are struggling to fill important posts, reducing their ability to grow and in turn hampering the health of local and national economies.

The Mind the Skills Gap campaign aims to highlight the important role colleges and other further education providers play in giving people the skills they need to enter these roles, which is only possible with greater funding.

The campaign also coincides with the launch of The Future Skills Coalition, which is supported by sector organisations including the Association of Colleges (AoC), the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) and City & Guilds. It has outlined three priorities to tackle this problem: a right to lifelong learning; fair, accessible and effective funding; and a national strategy to support local, inclusive growth.

It is hoped that by joining together across the sector and driving awareness of the vital role further education plays, colleges will be able to affect change and ensure future skill needs are met.

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