College chief backs Mind the Skills Gap campaign calls for budget funding

3rd March 2023

The Sheffield College’s chief has urged Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to increase funding for technical and vocational education in the upcoming spring statement.

Angela Foulkes, Chief Executive and Principal, The Sheffield College, has written to Mr Hunt calling for a funding boost for further education colleges in next month’s budget.

She said: “Colleges are key to addressing significant skills shortages across the economy but they have been significantly underfunded for more than a decade.

“Additional investment in further education and skills is vital to fill skills shortages and enable colleges to deliver the labour market their communities and the country need.”

The call for change is in support of the national Mind the Skills Gap campaign being led by the Future Skills Coalition.

As part of the campaign, college and FE sector leaders are lobbying the Chancellor ahead of the Spring Budget 2023 on March 15th, 2023.
They also held a Mind the Skills Gap campaign event in Parliament on March 1st, 2023, with MPs and peers from the House of Lords.

Nationally, college finances remain below what they were in 2010 according to a recently published report by the economics think tank the Institute for Fiscal Studies. 

Funding cuts mean spending per student in 2024/25 will still be around 5 below 2010/11 levels. For adult students, it is 22 below 2009/10 levels.

At the same time, job vacancies are at near record levels of over 1 million according to a Statista report published in February 2023.

Consequently, businesses are struggling to fill important posts. This is reducing their ability to grow and hampering the health of the local and national economy.

A joint report from the Open University and British Chambers of Commerce, published in 2022, identified the skills crisis facing employers.

Almost three-quarters (72) of organisations say the impact of skills shortages is causing increased workload on other staff while 78 are seeing reduced output, profitability or growth.

More than two-thirds (68) of SMEs are currently facing skills shortages, rising to 86 in large organisations, while 28 of businesses saying they have had to turn down work or are not able to bid for work due to their staff shortage.

Mind the Skills Gap aims to highlight the important role colleges and other further education providers play in giving people the skills to secure specialised jobs.

The campaign has three priorities: a right to lifelong learning; fair, accessible and effective funding; and a national strategy to support local, inclusive growth.

The Future Skills Coalition is supported by the Association of Colleges, Association of Employment and Learning Providers, and City & Guilds.

Visit Follow @SheffCol #MindTheSkillsGap. 

Pictured: Angela Foulkes, Chief Executive and Principal, The Sheffield College

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