Commenting on the white paper, Roy O’Shaughnessy, Chief Executive of the Capital City College Group said:
“The long-awaited further education white paper is finally with us. Its publication is a welcome acknowledgement of the vital role that the nation’s further education colleges, the 2.2 million people who study in them and the 55,000 staff who educate them, must play in the UK’s post-Brexit role in the world and our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“According to the CBI, our changing economy – fuelled by digitisation and automation – will mean that millions of us will need new skills over the next 10 years. Colleges are ready to provide these skills and we look forward to working with the government and others to help shape the future and turn the white paper into reality.
“We have students of all ages and all skill levels learning in our colleges, so it’s particularly welcome that the Government has restated their ambition to enable everyone to learn flexibly throughout their lives, as well as boosting the profile and reputation of further education. Like all colleges, we already work with local employers and other partners across London to provide valuable experiences and opportunities to our students in addition to their studies, and it’s pleasing that the white paper includes plans to further develop this work, through Local Skills Improvement Plans.
“We also welcome the desire to consult on simplifying the complex system for funding further education and to give providers more autonomy, and we’re delighted that the white paper acknowledges the key role that our teachers play, and that it wants to improve retention and encourage fresh talent into the sector. However, with college staff still paid considerably less than their fellow teachers in schools and universities, any discussion about recruitment and retention must also address the issue of staff pay and the viability of colleges.”