Collab Group election statement on capital funding

Insufficient access to capital funding is constraining the ability of colleges to meet employers' and learners' skills needs. Capital funding for the college sector has declined sharply in recent years. Many colleges are struggling to maintain their estates to a high standard, or to keep their equipment up-to-date. This impacts on the quality of the offer to learners; on colleges' ability to recruit staff and engage employers; and on their ability to deliver the full potential of reforms to technical education. The next Government should provide a substantial increase in capital funding for the college sector.

An increase in public investment in up-to-date, industry standard facilities in the college sector would have substantial benefits for employers, learners and the economy. In order to tackle the UK's productivity challenge, and to provide learners with routes into well paid, highly skilled jobs, we need a step change in the quantity and quality of technical education, including apprenticeships, T Levels and higher level technical qualifications. This will require modern, fit-for-purpose teaching facilities and technical equipment, recognised by employers as meeting current industry standards, across the college network. The next Government should ensure that capital investment in colleges includes investment in new facilities required to meet the technical skills needs of local employers, as a key component of local industrial strategies.

We ask the next government to:

Create a new ringfenced capital investment fund available to FE colleges of at least £2 billion. This will enable colleges both to upgrade their estates and to invest in the facilities and equipment needed to deliver high quality technical education.

Why this matters

Increasing the quantity and quality of apprenticeships, T Levels, higher level technical education, and adult education more broadly, will deliver economic benefits. In order to realise these, however, fit-for-purpose infrastructure is required, in addition to sufficient revenue funding. Teaching facilities and equipment need to keep up with current industry standards, in order to meet employers' skills needs, enable learners to become work ready, and support local industrial strategies; therefore, an ongoing programme of investment in the college sector is required.

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