Much-feared budget must support all age employability and skills

17 October 2016

Further education (FE) and part time learning cannot be faced with further funding cuts if it is to support the knowledge and skills for a growing economy. This is the message of ColegauCymru/CollegesWales ahead of the Welsh Government’s draft budget tomorrow (Tuesday 18th October 2016).

The charity, which works across the post compulsory education and training sector, says that despite the Welsh unemployment rate reaching its lowest in a decade at 4.6%, economic inactivity remains high at 23.6% and steps must be taken to ensure that the nation’s skills need are met.

Speaking ahead of the announcement of the Government’s 2017/18 spending plans, Iestyn Davies, Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, said, “Further education plays an integral role in reducing economic inactivity and supports two thirds of 16-19 year olds and the harder to reach into education, training and apprenticeships. We eagerly await the release of the Welsh Government announcement of where it is going to prioritise its funding with a degree of fear.

He added, “FE colleges as not for profit providers have always worked collaboratively with Welsh Government and other partners to embrace change. Challenges can become an opportunity to innovate, and ensuring that Wales can be a significant player attracting international high-skilled jobs and empowering our own Welsh business for growth. However, this can only be done if the funding for further education is fair and above all sustainable and based on a long term commitment.”

The charity has previously welcomed the Welsh Government commitment to 100,000 apprenticeships. However, it has also warned UK and Welsh Government that further education provision is much more than apprenticeships.

Iestyn Davies concluded: “Further education is varied and it is innovative and can meet the demand for education and training. Being flexible, responsive and strategic in thinking whilst relying on yearly funding streams remains a challenge. A meaningful rise in further education funding will empower learners and their communities but a cuts in the FE budget will cause learners in Wales to suffer”.