The leader of one of the largest college groups in the country is calling on local MPs to support colleges in the region.
Andrew Green, Chief Executive of the Chichester College Group, has been speaking out ahead of an Estimates Day Debate on Wednesday 5 July, which will focus on the spending of the Department for Education on adult education, post-16 education, further education and colleges.
Nationally, college finances are facing significant challenges with further education funding comparing unfavourable with both university and school funding after a decade of cuts.
He said: “There is one simple fact. Our sector desperately needs an increase in funding.
“For too long, colleges have fallen behind schools and universities in terms of Government support and funding – and now we face a real crisis. That’s why we’re backing the Association of Colleges’ calls for Government to listen to our voices and understand the severity of this issue.
“Skills training must be a key priority for the growth of the economy, yet colleges up and down the country received no additional funding in last year’s autumn budget to help cope with the larger-than-expected cost increases – or to pay our staff the wages they deserve.
“The Education Secretary – Gillian Keegan – is one of our local MPs. She spoke at the recent Business Connect-Skills for Growth conference about the importance of creating a workforce of the future, acknowledging that ‘without skilled workers, it often feels like you’re driving with the handbrake on.’
“That’s true – but the reality of the matter is that if colleges don’t receive vital funding increases, there will only be an increase in skills shortages and the country will stall in its bid for growth. There will be no staff to deliver the skills training which our economy so desperately needs.
“If this sounds stark, it is only because it is true.
“According to the Association of Colleges, school teachers are paid around £8,000 a year more than those at colleges in England on average. It’s why, as a sector, we’re now facing our worse staffing crisis in two decades which is restricting the ability to deliver in key skills shortage areas.
“That’s why we’re calling on our MPs across our region to stand up for colleges. We’ve shared with them information about the challenges the sector is facing – and we need them to hear us and speak for us. We’re responsible for the skills training of young people in their constituencies, and play a key role in the economic growth of their constituencies.
“The time to act is now.”