Principals at 16 North East colleges have joined forces to lobby Parliament over swingeing cuts to adult education

A coalition of North East colleges has united against significant cuts to adult further education.

The government will slash adult education funding by 24% this year and in a first for the country, principals at 16 North East colleges have joined forces to lobby Parliament over the swingeing cuts.

They have written to MPs asking for questions to be tabled in the Commons and signed a nationwide petition led by the University and College Union (UCU) which has thousands of signatures.

The principals are also calling on students and the region’s business community to support the campaign.

All 16 North East colleges are being supported by the Association of Colleges, whose chief executive Martin Doel said: “The fact that colleges in the North East have come together to campaign against the cuts demonstrates what a big issue it is for them.

“We’re living in an ever-changing society in which people do not keep to the same career path for their whole lives. These people need the options of returning to education or undertaking training.

“Adult education and training is effectively being decimated. It is too important to be lost and these cuts could mean an end to the vital courses that train people in the North East such as nurses and social care workers.”

The £460m reduction, which follows five years of funding cuts for the further education sector, will result in adult education courses being removed.

Vocational courses that develop the practical skills heavily in demand by North East employers will also be affected, in sectors such as engineering, manufacturing, health and social care, and construction.

Newcastle College principal Carole Kitching
Newcastle College principal Carole Kitching 

Carole Kitching, principal at Newcastle College, said: “The 24% reduction in the adult skills budget is devastating news.

“Over the past four years, the adult skills budget has been cut by around 40% which will have a massive impact on the number of adults able to access further education as we strive to reduce unemployment and widen participation in education and training.

“Our region will be particularly hard hit with some of the highest unemployment in the country and skills gaps in many key industries.

“The cut will affect adults hoping to develop technical and vocational skills at basic levels – levels 1 and 2 – if we cannot fund people to get onto the training ladder in the first place, how will we ever train a highly skilled workforce?

“We need to invest in education for all, not restrict it to schools and universities. I am working with local college principals, staff, students, many local MPs, the Association of Colleges and the University and Colleges Union to campaign against these cuts.”

Natalie Davison, principal of Bishop Auckland College, added: “How can we improve skills to help North East firms compete in the global marketplace when adult learning funding has been reduced by 50% in real terms since 2009?

“This will have a devastating impact on the communities we serve. It will stop unemployed people being able to access training to help them secure work, and hamper businesses wanting to up-skill their workforce in order to enable growth.”

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About Paul Champion

Some have called me a leader, and a entrepreneur, they say I have integrity, presence and skills to ensure continuous improvement and success in whatever challenges I face. They also tell me that I am positive, resilient and motivating. I say, I'm just a normaI guy from Gateshead in the North of England, who started as an apprentice engineer. I have been in the right place at the right time and in the wrong place at the wrong time! I have successfully initiated and led complex organizations and situations to completion and success, and I have been in some jobs where success seemed untouchable. Mainly though, I have tried to learn everyday, help people to progress and learn the skills they need to be successful. I have had the privilege of working with some great people locally across the UK and more recently internationally in Asia, Europe and now USA, where I am lucky enough to work for where I am head of 3aaa USA. This website is just me having an outlet to talk about all those thoughts, ideas and things I learn that pass through my head every day when I face the challenge of doing business. I will also rant on about how great apprenticeships are, and how you can help change peoples lives through them. After all thats how I got to do the great things that I have done, and also I am still an apprentice everyday! All I ask is that if you find it interesting then leave a comment and share what you read. THANK YOU.

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