In response to the Augar review published today, David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, said:
“Whoever becomes Prime Minister has a tough task ahead with widening skills gaps and stagnating social mobility. The recommendations in this report tackle both head on and should be a priority from day one in the job.
For too long, we’ve had a system that works for half the population whilst neglecting the other half. We live in a country with 9 million adults with poor basic skills, even more lacking strong digital literacy, skills gaps widening particularly in intermediate skills, employers struggling to recruit in many roles and enormous demand for tech experts to help reap the benefits of digital transformation. Our education and training system is not delivering to meet these needs now, so changes and fairer investment are vital.
We must not let this report be diminished to just a debate about tuition fees. It is more important than that. Universities are vitally important, but many people seem to need reminding that they are not the only part of the post-18 education and training system. In fact, more than half of the population have never been and never will go to university. Their education and life chances have been ignored for far too long.
Few jobs will be unchanged from technology and very few people will be able to thrive without frequent opportunities to learn, train and pick up new skills. Focusing only on universities and tuition fees does not do justice to those challenges, nor recognise the opportunities we have as a country if we get this right.
The Post-18 Review report attempts to balance the needs, aspirations and opportunities for every adult and proposes meaningful changes across universities, colleges and skills which are vital to set the country up for the future – including welcome recognition for the vital role of further education colleges, a boost to intermediate level skills funding and new rights for all adults to be able to get the support they need to progress in learning.
We need a diverse and thriving post-18 education sector, led by universities and colleges, working closely with employers and communities. The post-18 review report helps us start building that system and supporting everyone throughout their lives."