Marion Plant OBE

North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College (NWSLC) has welcomed the government’s plan to invest an extra £5bn in infrastructure projects including transport, public services, the NHS and the environment, designed to accelerate economic recovery, and stands ready to deliver the skills that will fuel new jobs and help people to secure employment.

As the Prime Minister sets out his ‘New Deal’ which promises to help the UK to ‘build back better’ following the coronavirus crisis, NWSLC is pledging its support to deliver the skills in construction, engineering, health and life sciences, and digital technology that will underpin the plan and the economic recovery of the UK.

Marion Plant, OBE FCGI, Principal and Chief Executive of NWSLC explained that the college is ready to support the plans through the delivery of a wide range of specific and relevant skills, in particular for adults who might be facing redundancy as the economy contracts at a higher rate than previously predicted.

She said, “The skills sector has never been more critical at a time when many people are concerned about possible job losses. Today’s announcement provides some reassurance that future employment will be protected, and it is our role to make sure that people have access to the training they need and are enabled to develop new skills so that they can take advantage of growing job opportunities in the targeted sectors.

“In order to do this, colleges will be required to address several important challenges including providing more college places for young people as unemployment rises, helping young people to catch up with their education following months of lockdown, helping to find new roles for apprentices who may face redundancy, and assisting large numbers of adults who require retraining for the ‘in-demand’ skills to meet the needs of the New Deal.”

To address these challenges, the college is adding its voice to calls from the sector for the government to ensure that every young person is guaranteed a high-quality education or training place, to fund a suite of employment-related, skills-based training programmes including traineeships and apprenticeships, and to support training for adults who have been made redundant whether they need short intensive courses or higher level technical qualifications.

Marion Plant added, “We also note the Prime Minister’s acknowledgement that the UK has ‘failed to invest enough in further education for a century’ and welcome the additional capital investment of £200m that is now being made available for repairs and upgrades to FE colleges to help us to maintain our role as central players in the country’s recovery.”

Improving colleges’ physical and digital infrastructure is an important aspect of the Association of College’s ‘Rebuild: a skills led recovery plan’ which was unveiled last month.

Marion Plant added, “At NWSLC, we are ready to provide training, skills and education to thousands of young people and adults, many of whom will need advice, support, and high quality teaching to be able to prepare for what will be a tough labour market.

“We have a strong track record in working with employers and adapting quickly and flexibly to meet their training needs. We are already working with several industries on specialised provision including for the logistics and automotive sectors. We have recently launched our Digital Skills Academy which is shortly due to start its first boot camp, and engagement in our distance learning provision continues to grow.

“I am confident that we are in a strong position to embrace the opportunity provided by the government’s investment plans by strengthening the skills and improving the productivity of the workforce.”