London’s colleges call on Mayor hopefuls to prioritise the city’s skills for the future

27 Apr 2021

Avoiding a ‘lost generation’ must be a top priority for the city’s next Mayor, say leaders of every further education college in London in an open letter sent to the Mayoral candidates. As campaigning steps up in the last weeks before election day, London’s colleges insist that whoever wins must improve the education and training of the city’s workers of the future to protect the poorest communities from being shut out of jobs and the chance to better their lives.

Elections take place on 6 May and colleges in the city have set out how the incoming Mayor of London must ‘fix the funding’ and ‘get London learning’ to ensure a strong recovery from the economic impact of the pandemic. With adult education at a record low and young Londoners more likely to be out of education, employment or training than the national average, without direct action London risks a ‘lost generation’ and a slower recovery from the pandemic.

London has experienced a severe economic contraction and when the furlough scheme ends, 2021 could see a significantly stronger impact of the crisis on jobs and livelihoods. ‘An Open Letter to the next Mayor of London’ cites access to lifelong learning, career support and the ability to re-train where labour market shifts require new skills as some of the most important issues for adults and young people in the capital. London has experienced a severe economic contraction and when the furlough scheme ends, 2021 could see a significantly stronger impact of the crisis on jobs and livelihoods.

‘An Open Letter to the next Mayor of London’ calls on the Mayor of London to:

  • Restore the adult education budget to 2008 levels – £640million, to ensure the capital has the resources it needs to support Londoners to retrain and reskill
  • Influence Ministers to ensure the funding for 16 to 18-year-olds increases to a base rate of £5000 and urgently address the 17.5% reduction in funding between 17 and 18 -year-olds.
  • Encourage more people to take up the digital skills entitlement and access the new Lifetime Skills Guarantee.
  • Support more low paid workers to take courses that improve their skills and progression opportunities.

Gerry McDonald, CEO & Group Principal New City College, Skills for Londoners Board Member and AoC Board Member  

“London’s colleges are at the heart of local communities and the centre of the capital’s economy. Colleges have proven that we can respond to skills challenges quickly and support people effectively to get into work, progress in their careers and now, more than ever, to adapt and re-skill. We want to do more.

Devolution of funding has been positive, and we have a strong platform to work from. We trust that London's next mayor will recognise the true value of colleges by pledging increased funding and working with us to continue to shape policy and keep skills high on the agenda for London. 

Dr Sam Parrett OBE, CEO & Group Principal London & South East Education Group and AoC Board Member – London said:

“Further Education has always been fundamental to social mobility – giving people from all backgrounds access to improved progression and employment opportunities. The pandemic has catalysed the need for us to widen participation. Re-skilling and upskilling are crucial to the capital’s economic recovery and London’s colleges are ready to play a leading role in this.

“But to do this effectively, the sector needs fair and adequate funding and support. This must include an increased adult education budget and more funding for 16 to 18-year-olds, as well as recognition of the genuine social value that FE provides.

“The incoming Mayor of London has a huge task in terms of supporting the re-building of London’s economy and its communities after such a tumultuous year; but it is also a time for great opportunity.  We look forward to working with the new Mayor to help ensure that young people and adults have access to the education opportunities they deserve and need, so that London can thrive once again.”

The Open Letter to the Mayor of London is available below.