Bradford Principal calls on Government to boost funding…

Bradford Principal calls on Government to boost funding for colleges

A college principal has urged Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to increase funding for technical education in the upcoming spring statement. 

Chris Webb, Principal and Chief Executive at Bradford College, has called on Mr Hunt for an increase in the budget which takes place next month. 

Nationally, college finances remain below what they were in 2010, according to economics think tank the Institute for Fiscal Studies [1]. Funding cuts mean spending per pupil in 2024-25 will still be around 5% below 2010-11 levels and for adult students it is 22% below 2009–10 levels.

Chris Webb and Naz Shah MP

Bradford College is supporting the Mind the Skills Gap campaign, which has been launched by the Future Skills Coalition. A campaign event in Parliament was held this week, attended by education and training leaders such as Chris Webb, as well as MPs and peers.

Principals and senior leaders from Further Education institutions across the UK and West Yorkshire region – including Bradford College, Leeds College of Building, Leeds City College, Calderdale, Kirklees, Keighley, and Shipley Colleges – attended the campaign outside Parliament.

Mr Webb said: “A growing economy needs investment, but sadly the Further Education sector has been overlooked yet again. I’m supporting the Mind the Skills Gap campaign at Parliament to highlight to MPs and Government that without additional investment, colleges will not be able to fill critical skills shortages in key priority areas of the economy and deliver the labour market the country so vitally needs.”

With job vacancies at near record levels of over 1 million according to the Office for National Statistics [2], businesses are struggling to fill important posts which is reducing their ability to grow, which in turn hampers the health of the local and national economy.

Mind the Skills Gap aims to highlight the important role colleges and other further education providers play in giving people the skills they need to enter these often specialised jobs. Colleges could do even more with greater funding.

The Future Skills Coalition is supported by sector organisations the Association of Colleges, the Association of Employment and Learning Providers and City & Guilds, has outlined three priorities to tackle this problem: a right to lifelong learning; fair, accessible and effective funding; and a national strategy to support local, inclusive growth.