Giving people the opportunity to develop the skills they need to succeed has been one of my major focuses since becoming an MP. My route to the workplace was via an apprenticeship right through to degree level – and I am so pleased that I have been able to play a part in my previous role as Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills in expanding the quantity and quality of technical education in this country.
One of the best colleges offering these qualifications is right here in Chichester. I recently returned to Chichester College to catch up with the group’s new CEO, Andrew Green. Andrew comes with a wealth of experience having worked in the Further Education (FE) sector for well over two decades, most recently as CEO of Brighton College, and before that as Chichester’s Executive Principal. Whilst on my visit Andrew showed me the College’s pair of Queen’s Anniversary Awards for Education. Last year they received their second such award in recognition of their internationally renowned work in furniture and upholstery training.
The work that FE colleges do is vital, not only to the individuals they educate, but to the businesses that desperately need skilled employees and the wider economy which is dependent on industry thriving.
Our country has significant skills gaps and colleges are playing a major part in helping people get the skills that businesses need. That is why as a Government we’ve announced £400 million to upgrade buildings and transform campuses at sixty-two further education colleges – including Chichester College. This is part of our £1.5 billion Further Education Capital Transformation Fund, designed to help transform post-16 education and training by ensuring students have access to modern, fit-for-purpose facilities.
It is my goal, and that of the Government, to ensure everyone has access to high-quality training to secure a well-paid job, and that businesses can tap into a sustainable talent pipeline as we continue to provide more opportunities in every part of the country.