In response to the report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on social mobility, David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, said:
“This report confirms that a lot more work is needed to improve life-chances for millions of people. Education needs to play its part in that and the report rightly focuses on what schools can do. Currently, around 60% of 18-year-olds have achieved the equivalent of A Levels and most will go onto higher education and decent jobs. For the other 40%, the picture is bleak - the investment we make in their skills is very low, opportunities to learn are scarce and they are more likely to have insecure jobs without training and development opportunities.
“To improve social mobility, we need to invest more in our colleges which can offer young people and adults opportunities to learn and develop skills. That in turn will support the growth in productivity which employers and the country need. We want to see a “new social contract” to better fund all full and part time students in both further and higher education, including an entitlement to maintenance grants; a lifelong learning entitlement giving people access to learning and training to Level 3; a national retraining scheme to fill emerging skills gaps in the labour market; and a better jobs deal offering practical support for young workers in low-skilled and insecure employment to train and progress into better jobs.
“Colleges offer life changing opportunities for millions of people each year – if we are serious about improving social mobility, we need to be serious about supporting colleges.”