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Next government must create ‘agile and comprehensive’ post-16 education system to move the country forward

27 April 2020

The Association of Colleges is calling on the political parties and prospective candidates to back colleges as vital institutions in an education system that works for everyone. In AoC’s General Election manifesto published today, five key pledges are set out to prepare people for life and work in a changing world through a new relationship with and investment in colleges. The pace of technological, demographic, labour market and social changes require a re-think on how we invest in our people throughout their adult lives. The next government has a unique opportunity to be able to build on the consensus for change, engaging colleges alongside schools and universities, employers and communities in building a new lifelong learning offer. Colleges educate 2.2 million people a year and employ 116,000 staff across the country. In many places they are the biggest employers after the NHS and public services. AoC is asking all major parties and parliamentary candidates to sign up to the following: A new place for colleges with a streamlined regulatory regime which gives colleges a protected title that places colleges at the heart of the national infrastructure. Ensure no young person is left behind – colleges must be funded to offer engaging and motivating programmes for young people which also improve English and maths and address high needs. Commit to investment and long-term funding for colleges that strengthens institutions and develops the professional workforce A new lease of life for lifelong learning - that boosts opportunities for adults and apprentices across the country. Equal access to education and training - Maintenance support, increase in bursary fund, transport discounts, child benefit and mental health support for people from low income families. Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, David Hughes said: “This election is set to be highly unpredictable as the chaos of Brexit continues to dominate. The pledges we set out today speak to some of the most pressing challenges every country faces. Now more than ever, we need a system in which colleges, and most importantly their students, can thrive and succeed. Colleges educate the next generation of workers in this country as well as the people already in work. The successful countries will invest more in young people to prepare them for longer and to be adaptable in changing labour markets and invest in re-training and supporting people to stay up to date as their jobs change or disappear. Colleges are ready to deliver more for young people and adults, helping employers to get the skilled people they need and supporting communities to be part of economic growth. To achieve that, the next government must deliver on our 5 sets of proposals.” These pledges are explored in more detail on our website. Notes to editor For more information, or to arrange to speak to a spokesperson, please contact Holly Townsend, Press & PR Manager, Association of Colleges, Holly Townsend / 0207 034 9914 / 07824 490377 About Association of CollegesAssociation of Colleges is the national voice for further education, sixth form, tertiary and specialist colleges in England. We are a not-for-profit membership organisation established in 1996 by colleges, for colleges. Our members make up almost 95% of the sector - transforming 2.2 million lives each year.