From education to employment

Liverpool City Region calls for action on skills gaps

College principals from all FE Colleges in Liverpool City Region (LCR), have urged Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to increase funding for technical education in the upcoming spring statement.

College finances remain below what they were in 2010, according to economics think tank the Institute for Fiscal Studies. Funding cuts mean spending per pupil in 2024-25 will still be around 5% below 2010-11 levels and for adult students it is 22% below 2009–10 levels.

Principal Sue Higginson of Wirral Met College, who is also a member of the board of the Association of Colleges, said:

“Myself and fellow leaders of Liverpool City Region colleges attended a breakfast meeting with Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram and Shadow Employment Minister Alison McGovern to continue to raise concerns about the significant lack of investment required to enable the FE Colleges to play a full part in the development of education and skills, required for a healthy economy.

Our Liverpool City Region FE colleges have served their communities for generations and are committed to making a real difference to the socio-economic health of our region.  This event supports a much larger ‘Mind the Skills Gap’ campaign, which has been launched by the Future Skills Coalition.”

With job vacancies at near record levels of over 1 million according to the Office for National Statistics, businesses are struggling to fill important posts which is reducing their ability to grow, which in turn hampers the health of the local and national economy.

Mind the Skills Gap aims to highlight the important role colleges and other further education providers play in giving people the skills they need to enter these often specialist jobs. Colleges could do even more with greater funding.

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region:

“Here in the Liverpool City Region, our colleges work day in, day out to equip our young people with the skills they will need for the jobs of tomorrow. They are vital part of our plans for a high skill, high wage local economy in the future.

But since 2010, these vital training providers have been starved of investment and as a country, we are now paying the price, with job vacancies at a record high.

Ahead of the budget on 15th March, the Chancellor needs to listen to what our college leaders are telling him – and increase funding for technical education so that people here about to enter the world of work can be trained for the opportunities that are there for them.”

The Future Skills Coalition is supported by sector organisations the Association of Colleges, the Association of Employment and Learning Providers and City & Guilds, 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.

The organisations held a national campaign event in Parliament on Wednesday (1 March) attended by education and training leaders as well as several MPs and peers.

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