Hartpury College Principal Russell Marchant has joined more than 200 education leaders in signing an open letter to the government demanding urgent investment in the technical and vocational education system.
In an unprecedented move, the 203 leaders of every general further education college in England have united in urging the Chancellor and Secretary of State for Education to “answer the calls from business” and respond to the “challenges of technological change and Brexit”.
The 203 leaders are responsible for institutions that together educate and train 2 million people each year, employ 180,000 staff and they have a combined turnover of £6 billion per annum.
Mr Marchant is among the signatories to their open letter calling on the government to implement the recommendations of the government’s recent Post-18 Education Review (the Augar Review).
The Augar Review called for, among other things, an end to the 17.5 per cent cut in education funding for 18-year olds, support so that everybody, regardless of age, to achieve to at least level three, and a rebalancing of the traditional post-18 educational landscape.
Recent forecasting by the Association of Colleges (AoC) warned that the country risks widening the skills gap and reducing economic output by £3.3 billion a year, if the government isn’t swift to act.
David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges said: “It is extraordinary to have every leader in every general further education college in the country collaborate like this, but then these are extraordinary times.
“These college leaders are uniquely placed at the hearts of their communities, working closely with local, national and international business, supporting individuals to get on in life, and driving the social mobility agenda.
“Government needs to listen to them if they’ve got any chance of tackling the major issues this country faces, now and in the future.”
An extract from the letter to the government reads: “We are sure that you will agree with us and other key stakeholders that further education colleges have been neglected, and that there is now a growing appreciation of their unique role, value and potential.
“What we now need are decisions and commitments: with your political leadership, support and resolve, colleges will be able to build on what they already do to reach more employers and more adults and make the differences our economy and society need.”