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Labour's 'Opportunities Mission': College sector responds

13 July 2023

In response to the launch of the Labour Party's 'Opportunities Mission' and their promise to shatter the 'class ceiling' through education and skills reform, David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges said:

“Class prejudice is a cloud that hangs low over the way politics is done, and we certainly see this in the education system – so we strongly welcome the Labour Party commitment to addressing it. Despite educating and training nearly two million people a year, boosting economies and bolstering communities, colleges are still often seen as being “for other people’s kids”. That’s’ why they have been neglected for so long and why significant investment is needed over the next decade to unleash the power of colleges to address the economic and social challenges our country faces.

I’m delighted to see Labour’s bold ambition to get 80% of young people educated to A-level or technical equivalent as well as the recognition of the need for a cohesive post-16 education system, with colleges and universities both playing to their strengths.

Whoever wins the keys to Number 10 faces many challenges, with the economy struggling, the cost-of-living biting and ever-widening skills gaps holding back growth. Colleges can do so much more to address those challenges, and to take hold of the opportunities ahead. Labour’s proposals rightly include removing unnecessary complexity and burdensome regulation from the education system, with decisions made based on local, regional, and national skills need.

There is lots to welcome in today’s announcement, and we will continue to work with Labour and politicians of all stripes to make sure that detailed implementation plans are developed. We cannot keep things as they are, changes are needed if those big challenges are to be addressed. There is no route to economic recovery which does not include a revolution in skills and education and training delivery. We need to stop letting snobbery and classism be a barrier to this, and we look forward to supporting these important commitments.”