College is ready to play a pivotal role in Covid-19 recovery

Published: November 25, 2020

Telford College has welcomed Government initiatives to help further education colleges play a pivotal role in rebuilding and re-skilling the economy as the UK recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Graham Guest, principal and chief executive, was speaking after the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review, presented this afternoon by Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

He welcomed plans for a ring-fenced fund to improve facilities at further education colleges, expansion of cash incentives available to companies taking on apprentices, and multi-billion pound support for re-skilling employees.

Mr Guest said: “With unemployment forecast to continue rising over the next few months, the further education sector will have a vital role to play in helping to rebuild and re-skill the workforce for the post-Covid economy.

“We welcome reports of £138 million to fund technical courses, which are in such demand right now, capital investment in FE college facilities, and a renewed commitment to invest in sector-based work academies – which Telford College have been running successfully for many years.

“Extension of the Kickstart programme – another initiative which we are already closely involved in – is also going to be a welcome move to help young and long-term unemployed people back into jobs.”

Mr Guest said the Government’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee would open up great access to qualifications for the people of Shropshire who need access to training and reskilling opportunities.

“We are ready to step up to this challenge, and look forward to hearing more details from the Government about exactly how this is going to work.

“Retraining adults affected by the pandemic’s impact is going to be absolutely essential over the coming months, and we are constantly adapting our curriculum to reflect the needs of local employers.”

He added: “It has never been more important, as we tentatively find a way out of this pandemic, to ensure that we can support those who are at greatest risk of being left behind.

“We have already provided laptops to dozens of our students who are either disadvantaged, or most vulnerable, to ensure they are able to remain fully connected. Capital funding for further investment in technology is welcome.”

As a member of the Association of Colleges, Mr Guest echoed the comments of chief executive David Hughes who said: “The Chancellor is right to invest now and over the coming months in securing jobs and improving skills.

“The steps set out are the right things to do, given the effects of the pandemic look set to be with us for longer than most people expected.

“We need a skills-led recovery, and Telford College is ready to step up and play a pivotal role.”