A college principal has urged Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to increase funding for technical education in the upcoming spring statement.
Janet Gardner, Principal and Chief Executive at Waltham Forest College, has written to Mr Hunt calling for an increase in the budget which takes place next month.
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.
Janet Gardner said: “Skills remain a key priority and we need to continue to increase funding so we can continue to support the development of skills needed to boost the UK’s economy and ensure the FE sector attracts and retains the very best staff to train the future talent employers need.”
Waltham Forest College is supporting the 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 specialised jobs. Colleges could do even more with greater funding.
The Rt Hon Sir George Iain Duncan Smith recently visited Waltham Forest College to witness firsthand, the important role colleges play in upskilling both young and adult learners in FE. He said:
“Filling the skills gap – it’s important that we recognise FE colleges are right there doing that at moment. But the biggest problem we’ve got, is that they can’t afford to do it all, because they need more investment and more funding.
“It’s now time that we recognise, without FE colleges, we won’t be able to get that reskilling or apprenticeships. The launch of Mind the Skills Gap, makes it very clear – It’s time for us to invest in FE colleges.”
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 campaign event in Parliament on Wednesday (1 March) attended by education and training leaders as well as several MPs and peers.