In response to today’s speech from the CBI Director-General on the need for a more agile education system, David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, said:
“We have long been calling on government to be ambitious, to be bold, and to move beyond traditional education and training models if they are serious about securing long-term economic success. CBI are the latest organisation to join us in recognising the vital relationship between employers and colleges and we welcome their endorsement.
“Currently around 60% of 18-year-olds achieve the equivalent of A Levels (Level 3) and most then go on to higher education. For the other 40%, we invest far too little capital – financial or political – leaving them in low skilled jobs, insecure employment and shutting them off from opportunities.
“There must be a concerted effort to support more people to achieve to at least level three in learning which reflects local need, is flexibly delivered, and available at any stage of life. This will provide more people with the skills that employers need, and reduce the country’s ever widening skills gap.
“Recent AoC research highlighted that 6 in 10 SMEs say that finding employees with the right skills is their biggest concern, with 51% finding it more difficult than five years ago. Employers said that it is colleges who are best placed to skill the future workforce.
“Earlier this month, 165 English MPs from four political parties co-signed a letter to the Chancellor urging him to prioritise investment in further education to secure a strong economy post-Brexit.
“The decade of austerity that colleges have faced must now end. With so much support from all parts of the political spectrum, the general public, parents and students, staff and unions, and now employers, the Chancellor really has no choice but to act and to act soon.”