The Welsh Government has confirmed it will provide FE colleges extra funding in 2018/19, 2019/20 to match the pay increase agreed by UK Government of school teachers in Wales.
The Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning Eluned Morgan announced in a statement last week that the Welsh Government "will be providing £8 million in extra funding to enable further education lecturers to be awarded a pay deal which is commensurate to that received by school teachers”.
She added: “I am pleased to say that funding highlights the recognition that FE makes an important contribution to the economy of Wales, and demonstrates that as a Welsh Government we are committed to supporting pay parity of the teaching profession.”
Pay bargaining in the Welsh FE sector is carried out collectively between employers and the trade unions, with post-16 education charity ColegauCymru /CollegesWales facilitating the negotiations. Although a 7.5 per cent increase asked for by unions has been deemed unaffordable by management, employers had previously indicated that pending governent funding to finance this, a settlement could be reached at a 3.5 per cent increase.
Iestyn Davies, Chief Executive of ColegauCymru, said “ongoing communication and dialogue between the sector, unions and government, has meant that funding and planning developments have been done in partnership, giving due recognition to colleges for their contribution to teaching and learning and the economy”. He added “This does not mask the challenges we all face, but highlights the importance of partnership working.”
Last week also saw, the National Assembly for Wales voting in favour of a Plaid Cymru proposed motion, calling for more resources and an end to more cuts to the Further Education sector. Recognition indeed that Assembly Members more widely are aware of the value of FE colleges and that continued sector cuts will only inflict damages on learning services, communities and the economy across Wales.
Iestyn Davies concluded “Through developing a close working relationship with Government and widening the understanding across all political parties, ColegauCymru hopes to ensure a strong future for FE in Wales.”