Sheffield’s business and civic leaders have voiced their support for a campaign championing the role and contribution of further education colleges.
‘Love Our Colleges’ highlights the vital role that colleges play in local communities and the economy and the need for proper investment in the FE sector and fairer pay for FE staff.
The national campaign, being backed by The Sheffield College, is taking place during Colleges Week from October 15th to 19th.
Krysia Wooffinden, Assistant Director for Skills, Employment and Education at Sheffield City Region, said: “We, as the Sheffield City Region, are delighted to be supporting all colleges across the region in this ‘Love Our Colleges’ campaign and to highlight the vital services they provide. Colleges in SCR are critical to delivering the skills and education our economy needs to grow.”
Councillor Jayne Dunn, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills at Sheffield City Council, said: “The ‘Love Our Colleges’ campaign shines a light on the importance of investing in colleges and the work they do to build a thriving local economy for Sheffield. Colleges play an integral part in preparing our young people for adulthood and independence and offer an opportunity for individuals of all ages to gain the skills and experience they need to prepare for the world of work.”
Richard Wright, Director of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, said: “Colleges have diverse student communities and provide thousands of young people and adults with the opportunity to fulfil their potential. Within larger cities, in particular, many students come from challenging circumstances. Colleges support social mobility by giving them the chance to start on the course that is right for them and then to move up to the next level qualification.”
He added: “Colleges not only fill that gap, but they are also the institutions on which a whole new education system can be built for the future, addressing employers’ skills needs and supporting the regional economy. Education is about preparing people for work and the majority of employers want students with excellent practical and work related skills. The fact remains that not all students want to go to university or achieve the qualifications to do so. New vocational routes need to be built around both colleges and universities that play to each institution’s strengths.”
Angela Foulkes, Chief Executive and Principal of The Sheffield College, commented: “We have a significant positive impact on the local economy helping our students go further as they develop the skills that employers need which, in turn, supports business growth. It’s great to see the city’s business and civic leaders showing their support for the ‘Love Our Colleges’ campaign.”
The Association of Colleges is spearheading the campaign in partnership with the National Union of Students, Association of College and School Leaders, University and Colleges Union, Unison, GMB, TUC and National Education Union.
According to research by the Association of Colleges, college funding nationally has dropped by around 30% from 2009 to 2019. A national petition started by FE students is gathering pace. Visit https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/229744.
The campaign, which is attracting support from colleges across the country, is calling on the government to increase funding for 16-19-year-olds by 5% a year for the next five years and to provide exceptional funding, ring-fenced for teacher pay. It is also calling for greater investment in adult education.