North Yorkshire principals call on the government to boost funding for colleges

7 March 2023

College principals across North Yorkshire are urging the government to bring skills investment to the forefront of its agenda.

Leaders from Harrogate, Askham Bryan, Darlington, Scarborough TEC, Selby, Craven and York colleges have been writing to their MPs calling for fairer funding for the further education sector. This follows a day of activities at Westminster last week, organised by the Future Skills Coalition, that demonstrated to the government that a growing economy needs ongoing investment in skills, for jobs today and to be agile as job needs change.

Danny Wild, Principal at Harrogate College, said:

It’s integral for us to continue delivering an employer-led curriculum that is in line with growth sectors in North Yorkshire, such as sustainable energy, health, pharmaceuticals and life sciences, advanced manufacturing and hospitality.

In order to do so effectively, we need to be adequately funded as a sector. Investing in skills gives instant and long-term returns through higher productivity, helping employers find and develop productive workers and in turn delivering higher wages.

Harrogate College
Harrogate College



With job vacancies at near record levels of over 1 million according to the Office for National Statistics, businesses are struggling to fill important posts which is reducing their ability to grow, which in turn hampers the health of the local and national economy.

Lee Probert, Principal at York College, said:

Given the importance of skills, recruiting and retaining talent in businesses and supporting people to return to the labour market, it’s critical that the Government makes more
meaningful investment in this agenda.

College finances remain below what they were in 2010, according to economics think tank the Institute for Fiscal Studies. Funding cuts mean spending per pupil in 2024-25 will still be around 5% below 2010-11 levels and for adult students it is 22% below 2009–10 levels.

The Future Skills Coalition is supported by sector organisations the Association of Colleges, the Association of Employment and Learning Providers and City & Guilds, has outlined three priorities to tackle this problem: A right to lifelong learning; fair, accessible and effective funding; and a national strategy to support local, inclusive growth.

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