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Skills and the Levelling Up White Paper - Colleges respond

1st February 2022

Association of Colleges is the national voice for England's colleges - with more than 90% of the sector in membership.

In response to education and skills commitments being made in the upcoming Levelling Up White Paper, AoC has issued the below statement.

David Hughes, Chief Executive, Association of Colleges said:

“Colleges have been looking forward to the Levelling Up White Paper because of the central role they play in local communities, the labour market, and enhancing life chances for millions of people. So it is good to see skills, training and the work of colleges given a high priority.

Today’s announcement is only part of the whole picture, and largely sets out a some more detail on the programmes and changes which were announced in last year’s Spending Review. We look forward to finding out more about the Education Investment Areas, but we would question what evidence there is for the need for new 'elite sixth forms' in our education system.

More than anything, though, we want to see more emphasis on place-based collaborative approaches to education and skills. Our analysis has shown that competition between providers results in less choice and less coherence for learners and employers. We have also campaigned for better alignment between employment support and skills, between universities, colleges and schools, and between economic development and infrastructure spend and skills. All of that needs to be spelt out in the full white paper on Wednesday.

Levelling up will only happen with increased investment from government and business in left behind places. That needs more work between DfE, DWP, BEIS and DLUC to focus on meeting needs, stimulating development and enabling joined-up skills, employment and business support."