Responding to the Government’s Industrial Strategy green paper, David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of College, said: “The green paper raises some important and longstanding skills issues, which feel even more urgent as we face up to a new position in the global economy. Our country needs highly-skilled workers across a range of industries if we are to flourish and our education system needs to support both young people and adults to gain these skills, as well as re-train throughout their careers.
“The strategy recognises that more investment is needed in further education (FE) colleges and represents ‘a major endorsement of the crucial role that FE colleges play in the economy’. For too long FE colleges have been at the end of the table in resource allocations, resulting in the startling figure in the strategy that shows a drop from 27 hours of tuition per week in schools pre-16 to only 17 hours post-16. We cannot deliver a world-class education system for young people with those hours, because we also trail other nations on the same measure. More investment is needed here.
“I am pleased that the role of colleges from level 3 through 4 and 5 to degrees has been understood and that the Institutes of Technology will build on the specialisms that exist across the college sector. We want an investment approach which supports every college to provide excellence, meet industry needs and help people move into work and progress in work. A strong and effective college is needed in every community and in every labour market.
“Our response to the green paper will be positive and seek fair funding for colleges that all want to meet the challenges set out so cogently. Fair funding for colleges requires on-going revenue to support more tuition hours, work placements, skilled FE college workforces and capital for the equipment and facilities needed to deliver technical and professional education.”