Roy O’Shaughnessy, Chief Executive Officer of Capital City College Group (@capitalcitycg), gives his response to the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Budget announcement.
The Government has promised to build back better and level-up Britain through a skills revolution. Colleges provide the training which the country needs to achieve that, so – following a decade of chronic underfunding for further education – it’s good finally to see increased investment in post-16 education and skills in the Chancellor’s announcements.
We welcome the additional adult skills funding through Multiply and the National Skills Fund investments. We pioneered free Level 2 courses in 2017 and introduced more at Level 3 in 2019, and we know they make a huge difference by enabling people, for whom the cost would be a massive barrier, to return to education and gain valuable new skills. We also welcome the additional monies for 16 to 19-year-olds in T Level funding and the pandemic recovery plan. This Group has experienced some of the most acute impacts through the pandemic and this funding will go some way to tackling these effects.
We are also pleased to see the further capital funding for colleges outlined. This will be critical to allow us to improve our facilities and infrastructure to provide even better spaces for students to learn effectively.
Capital City College Group provides more apprenticeships in London than any other further education provider, so it is encouraging that the apprenticeships budget will increase over the next three years. Alongside this, we welcome the reforms to Universal Credit and DWP funding to help support more people into meaningful work.
Overall, I believe the Budget and Spending Review announcements are a positive step for the Group and our colleges. However, on face value it only restores many of the cuts over the last decade rather than meeting the technical skills aspirations which have been articulated. More will be needed if the UK is to have a true skills revolution, level up and tackle the major challenges we face post Brexit and meeting our 2050 net zero carbon targets. We stand ready to work with Government to articulate how this may best be met.
Capital City College Group is London’s largest college group comprising City and Islington College, Westminster Kingsway College and the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London, and apprenticeship and training provider Capital City College Training.