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College of West Anglia (CWA) is supporting the Association of College’s (AOC) Mind the Skills Gap campaign, which has been launched by the Future Skills Coalition.

Mind the Skills Gap campaign aims to highlight the important role further education colleges play in increasing the skill levels of the workforce. Without further investment, colleges won’t be able to reach their full potential and deliver the labour market, equipped with the skills, the country needs. Local labour markets rely on the jobs which college’s help deliver year in year out, through training young and older people alike.

 As part of Association of Colleges (AOC) action week, an event in Parliament was held on Wednesday (1 March) attended by David Pomfret Principal and Chief Executive at College of West Anglia, education and training leaders as well as several MPs, including KL & WN’s MP James Wild MP.

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Principal David Pomfret with James Wild MP.



In addition, as part of the AOC action week, Principal David Pomfret visited both King’s Lynn and Wisbech Campuses restrained in chains to give a physical representation of the constraints that the lack of funding into FE has caused to him in leading the college. 

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Prinicpal David Pomfret photographed at both King's Lynn and Wisbech campus. 

CWA is well placed to play a part in the Government’s plans to grow the economy, but it needs support and investment to be able to do that after 12-years of declining funding for adults and young people.


 David Pomfret Principal and chief executive at CWA said:

 “I wanted to take the opportunity to support the Mind the Gap campaign and AOC action week to raise the issue of funding for colleges and how this affects the communities we serve.

 Student numbers at CWA have dropped from 13,000 to just 5,000 learners in the 16 years I have been Principal. This is solely due to the reduction in funding for further education, which has made further education unaffordable and inaccessible for the majority. Adult education in particular has been affected significantly by this lack of funding.

 College finances remain well below levels seen when I was appointed principal! In fact, despite extra funding announced in the 2021 Spending Review, total adult skills spending will still be 22% below 2009 levels.

 In 2022 at CWA we opened the new £1.5million School of Nursing Studies at our King’s Lynn campus in partnership with the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and accelerated Town Deal Funding. These facilities provide healthcare training to members of our local community and provide opportunities for current healthcare practitioners at the QEH to upskill. These facilities are a great example of what extra funding into further education can do to support our future workforce. We need further investment to enable us to support the skills needs of other key sectors such as digital, energy, engineering & advanced manufacturing and construction, and to meet the carbon net zero skills needs of the region. 

 To meet the wider growth needs of our economy it is essential that we reward and support our own FE workforce. Current funding levels make it increasingly difficult to recruit and retain staff as staff pay has fallen well behind levels seen in schools, universities and the very sectors that we are upskilling. I fully recognise that the current state of the public finances is challenging, but I’m clear that investing in skills is not only the right thing to do, it also delivers a return on investment for the government.

 We provide a fantastic offering already at CWA, imagine what we could do with additional funding. Campaigning for money to be put back into further education is vital to support the local businesses and communities that we at the College of West Anglia serve, but ultimately to support the future of the economy for everyone.”



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