New City College Group Principal and CEO Gerry McDonald is calling on the Government to increase funding for colleges in order to avert a national skills crisis.
Gerry is joining forces with more than 200 other colleges in the National Day of Lobbying campaign today (Wednesday 1 March), to raise awareness about the important role that Further Education plays in delivering the workforce of tomorrow.
Led by The Future Skills Coalition – a partnership between the Association of Colleges; the Association of Employment and Learning Providers; and City & Guilds – the campaign’s message is Mind the Skills Gap.
College leaders are uniting to make sure the message is heard before Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s spring budget on 15 March. Unless there is additional investment in FE, there will be a national shortage of trained, skilled workers in key industry sectors where the economy needs to grow.
People from the local community need to be taught the skills that businesses today are crying out for. Colleges can do this, but unless they are given more money to run the courses, the skills shortage will only get worse.
Gerry said: “This day of lobbying gives us an opportunity to highlight the work that New City College, along with more than 200 other colleges across England do, in training the next skilled workforce. But we can’t do the job we’re capable of without fair funding.
“That’s why we’re joining forces in this campaign to ask for an additional £400m for colleges in England so that we can have the capacity to deliver the skills that the UK so desperately needs. With the right funding, colleges will be able to close the skills gap.”
The lobby group is spending the day at Parliament and asking the Government to value more highly the incredible job that colleges do within their communities. Although schools recently received an additional £2bn funding from the Government – colleges were ignored.
Gerry added: “This needs to be addressed as a priority. If only the Chancellor would realise the true value of Further Education. It’s a fact that 78% of employers are seeing reduced output, profits and growth. And 28% of businesses say they are turning down work due to their skills shortages.
“Colleges are the answer to these problems. If the Government sorts out the funding problem, colleges will sort out the skills problem. It’s simple.”
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, hampering the health of the local and national economy.
Students got involved in the campaign too. NCC student Carl believes more funding is key. He wants to make his family proud by becoming a carpenter and studying his carpentry course at college is giving him the opportunity to improve his prospects and get on in life. He said:
“Further Education can change lives. If there is no investment, courses will close and lives will be ruined.”
Student Rawda didn’t meet the requirements for A Levels or T Levels, but is studying a BTEC so that she can follow her passion for Applied Science at university. She said:
“How many other young people will not be able to go to university and study for their career if BTEC courses are scrapped? Things need to change.”