Colleges should target skill shortages

Clydebank Collefe from Titan.jpg

West College in Clydebank from the Titan Crane. Picture by Bill Heaney

By Lizzie Healey

Dumbarton and Lomond MSP Jackie Baillie has called on the Scottish Government to properly fund Scotland’s colleges as new data reveals that there are over 120,000 fewer students in them compared to when the SNP took power in 2007.

The Scottish Funding Council publication shows that college headcount has dropped by 33.3 per cent from 363,597 in 2006-07 to 242,488 in 2017-18. The enrolment rate for part-time students has also fallen by 43.5 per cent since 2006-07.

In addition, for students on courses lasting longer than 160 hours, there is an attainment gap of more than three per cent between students from the most and least deprived areas. An attainment gap also exists for students with disabilities and care experienced students.

The MSP said: Colleges are a ladder of opportunity for so many people, and I know that many of my own constituents thrive at West College Scotland enabling them to acquire new skills and progress after school.

“And while colleges are doing a great job for so many, there is so much more that could be done if they had the resources that they desperately need. There are skills shortages across a range of sectors and employers are crying out for skilled staff but the SNP’s under-funding of our colleges is leading to fewer young people going on to further education.

“The SNP Government say that education is their top priority, but their only priority for colleges is cuts. Colleges have missed out on over £1 billion of investment since 2007-08.

“The Government needs to re-invest in our colleges and implement their already watered down review into student support, making sure to include provisions for part time students.”

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