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Posted on:
12th October, 2018

It's vital we get more investment in colleges to meet local and national skills needs

Colleges Week takes place from Monday 15 October to Friday 19 October and is part of a UK-wide ‘Love Our Colleges’ campaign. Here, David Hughes, CEO of the Association of Colleges, outlines just how important that campaign is for LEPs and all of their local partners.

It's vital we get more investment in colleges to meet local and national skills needs

Over the last decade, colleges have had to deal with an average 30% drop in funding whilst costs have increased dramatically. Despite the funding cuts, colleges still educate and train over 2.2 million people every year and play a vital role in providing the local skills needed to build and maintain successful local economies. That role will become more important as skills shortages grow in the run-up to and post-Brexit.

As Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) know all too well, business success depends on many things, but skills and the right people are always central to the recipe. As LEPs strive to deliver their Local Industrial Strategies, the right investment in colleges will be vital.

The college funding cuts mean that many adults simply do not have the opportunities they need and want to re-train and upskill. The average career will last more than fifty years during which time technology and businesses will continue to change. That needs business leaders to be fleet of foot and able to rely on people who can face up confidently to change and learn and train to adapt. In turn businesses and people need to be able to access opportunities locally to train and re-train. Constant cuts and a lack of investment in colleges is stopping that from happening.

That’s why we are calling for more investment in colleges to be able to meet local and national skills needs. By not investing properly in colleges, we are harming the prospects for people, businesses, communities and the wider economy. That is why the Love Our Colleges campaign – which calls on government for better investment in colleges, and fair pay for college staff - is so important and why I think LEPs all around the country will want to follow the lead of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP and South East LEP in supporting it.

Colleges Week takes place from 15 to 19 October and is part of the Love Our Colleges campaign - a joint campaign between Association of Colleges, NUS and education unions. See how you can get involved at www.collegesweek.co.uk.

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