As the Chancellor announces his Autumn Statement, ColegauCymru has today warned of a difficult road ahead, and the need to invest in colleges to aid economic recovery.
The sector welcomes the recognition from the Chancellor of the importance of skills and opportunities for young people, but has warned that this needs to be matched by a commitment to investing in further education. As colleges continue to deal from the fallout from an unprecedented global pandemic, as well as an energy crisis with costs set to rise 8-fold, and rising price of food and materials, it is critical to recognise the value of investing in further education to power our recovery.
ColegauCymru Director of Policy and Public Affairs, Rachel Cable said,
“Colleges are the key cogs in the machinery of economic recovery, and ensuring we have sustainable investment in our colleges is critical to allow us to navigate this challenging financial period, and to continue to deliver world class education. It is important to recognise that investing in further education will directly support economic recovery. Colleges are already dealing with significant increased costs, and require an appropriate and sustainable funding package to continue to do this.”
ColegauCymru reports that rising energy costs are having a significant impact on operational budgets, and will continue to do so in the years ahead. Combined electricity costs across the sector are set to rise from approximately £5.8m in 2021/22 to £9.1m in 2022/23 and further to £15.3m in 2023/24. Likewise, gas rises are set to jump from approximately £2.5m in 2021/22 to £3.7m in 2022/23 with a further hike to £6.7m in 2022/24. It will be vital to support the sector to meet these rising costs.
Our colleges are grateful for the support already received from Welsh Government to assist with post-Covid recovery. We remain committed to working with the Welsh Government to ensure that colleges receive the funding they need, from the £1.2bn announced for Wales today. Colleges across Wales will continue to work to provide world class education, to support communities and a strong economy, and to build a brighter future for our post-16 learners.
Lucy Hopkins, Communications Manager