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Colleges need support to meet technical education ambitions

16 July 2015 | last updated: 10 December 2015

Responding to a new report launched today on a reformed system of technical education, UCU said unless the government looks again at devastating cuts of up to 24% then colleges will struggle to deliver the skills the country needs.

Raising productivity through better technical educationfrom the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) calls for a clearer simplified new system of technical qualifications. It would see further education colleges working hand-in-hand with industry to fill the burgeoning skills gaps for technical professionals.

The report is launched as UCU campaigns with a coalition of other organisations to halt planned cuts of up to 24% for vocational college courses for adults aged 19 and over. Due to take effect from September, the union says the cuts would decimate adult skills, denying thousands the opportunity to retrain and learn new skills.

The union's views were confirmed by labour market expert, Professor Alison Wolf, who in a recent report argued that further education is a valuable source of technicians and mechanics and now faces possible collapse due to 'unstable, inefficient, untenable and unjust funding'.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'With appropriate funding in place, as this report proposes, colleges are ideally placed to meet the challenge of creating a new esteemed system of post-school technical qualifications that would rejuvenate national productivity.

'But the terrible reality is that further education colleges are currently facing cuts of up to 24% which would decimate adult vocational education and deny thousands of people over the age of 19 the opportunity to retrain or learn new skills. Let's not forget colleges also do a great job in offering lower level courses for adults, often giving them a way back into education.

'We're pleased to see HEPI recognises that there is no need to reinvent the wheel as there are already hundreds of further education colleges in England and Wales that should deliver high-end technical education and training.'

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