From education to employment

Conservatives’ failure on post-16 education exposes Boris Johnson’s empty rhetoric on opportunity

boris johnson

@Labour will today [Tuesday] warn that the Conservatives have presided over five years of decline in post-16 education, exposing Boris Johnson’s empty rhetoric on creating opportunities as analysis shows students from poorer backgrounds are losing out on training places fastest.

Labour analysis shows the number of further education students has declined by a quarter since 2015, with the number of younger and poorer students declining fastest. Since 2015, the number of learners from the most deprived backgrounds has declined by nearly a third, rising to almost 40 per cent among learners under age 19.

On a visit to Swindon College, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, Kate Green MP, will call on the Government to stop neglecting the further education sector and recognise the essential role colleges have to play in enabling young people and adults to develop the skills needed for our economic recovery and future economy.

Labour’s analysis also shows the number of further education colleges has fallen by a quarter, with numbers of full-time equivalent staff dropping by over 9,000. 

This decline in the number of FE students, colleges and staff comes as the Conservatives have slashed spending on 16-19 education by £710 million since 2010, a reduction of 21.0 per cent in real terms, which has taken training opportunities away from thousands of young people.

Kate Green MP, will highlight the key role colleges have to play in our economic recovery, restating Labour’s calls for a smarter version of the furlough scheme to include training, along with a ‘Jobs Promise’ to provide opportunities for young people age 16 – 24 to access quality education, training or employment after six months of being out of work, employment or training, after analysis has found half a million young people could face long-term unemployment by 2022.

Kate Green MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Education, said:

“The Conservatives have weakened the foundations of our further education sector, exposing their empty rhetoric on creating opportunities and undermining young people’s life chances.

“The ability to train and retrain will be essential to securing our economy, yet successive Conservative governments have hollowed out the infrastructure needed to reskill workers after this pandemic.

“With unemployment rising, the Government should heed Labour’s call for a ‘jobs promise’ to avoid a lost generation of young people.”

UCU General Secretary Jo Grady said:

‘Funding for further education needs to be massively increased on a long-term basis. This government has overseen years of cuts to the sector which have led to lower pay, fewer staff and less opportunity for students. Now more than ever it is time for this government to prove it is committed to further education and ensure a stable future for everyone who works and studies in our colleges. If the government were serious about the value of our colleges, the need to rebuild after the pandemic, and reskill the workforce for the jobs of the future, it would commit to this necessary long-term investment and insist that staff are properly paid.’ 

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