FE colleges’ resilience has been tried and tested over the last few years according to a Wales Audit Office (WAO) report published today. ColegauCymru, the charity which represents and promotes post compulsory education and training has welcomed this report but calls for the Welsh Government to commit to longer term financial support to ensure that colleges can meet the changing needs of the future.
Recommendations from the WAO complement the reform proposals put forward in the Welsh Government’s own ‘Diamond’ and ‘Hazelkorn’ reviews emphasising the need for less complexity and greater parity for post-16 education, training and skills that is focussed on learners.
The report evidences that the FE sector has been innovative in identifying solutions and delivering services more efficiently while maintaining quality and promoting the Welsh Government’s objectives of up-skilling the workforce. However, with the financial outlook remaining uncertain, the report highlights how colleges will need continued financial support to sustain this proactive approach and to face the challenges ahead.
Chief Executive Iestyn Davies said;
“We heard the Welsh Government’s announcement in January 2017 on establishing a new, arm’s length strategic authority to oversee post-compulsory education and training, so this report is very timely and appropriate as it helps evidence that what is needed is a robust strategy that provides the best outcomes for all post-16 learners in Wales.
“For Wales to be a key player in economic terms, an integrated approach with a three-year funding cycle is essential for skills and the post-16 sector. Colleges cannot be expected to plan ahead without a commitment from the cabinet that they can expect the resources to meet the demands of a changing population. This report has highlighted that when faced with grant cuts, colleges have developed commercial streams of income and have not compromised on quality when changing part-time provision. We call on Welsh Government to display the same kind of approach and tenacity in order to ensure the best possible deal for FE learners.”