The Association of Colleges (AoC) is planning to launch a Brexit blueprint due to concerns over the effect on colleges of leaving the European Union, it has emerged today.
While much of the plans are yet to be decided, later this year, the AoC will release a series of recommendations on skills, outlining how Britain could move towards a more self-sufficient workforce post-Brexit. One of the key aims of the strategy will be to raise the profile and reputation of colleges nationally, according to the AoC.
Julian Gravatt, the organisation’s deputy chief executive, said: “Our decision to leave the European Union has cast a light on the shortfalls in workforce skills, especially with the likely slowdown in skilled immigration. This means that more must be done to support people to train and retrain over the duration of their careers.”
He added: “Colleges are well placed to upskill Britain’s workforce. Across the four nations, they provide high-quality academic, technical and professional education to young people, adults and employers.”
The news comes amid plans by the government to introduce a new migration system post-Brexit. The migration advisory committee has been tasked with providing the evidence base for the government’s future approach to who will be allowed come to, live and work in Britain.
Growing concern over recruitment
In a submission to the committee, which is due to submit its final report later this year, the AoC warns: “We are concerned that the fall in the value of sterling, the changing perception in the attractiveness of the UK and the introduction of new controls on migration from the EEA may make it harder for colleges to recruit the staff they need.
"This, in turn, might make it difficult for colleges to provide the education and training needed to prepare and retrain people for a changing labour market.”
New data released by the migration advisory committee last week revealed that an analysis done by the Education and Training Foundation for the Department for Education showed that "approximately 6,600 members of the FE teaching workforce were from the EU”.
Writing in an interim report, released alongside the data, committee chair Alan Manning said: “Employers in all sectors are concerned about the prospects of future restrictions on EEA migration.”
He commented: “Any proposals for restrictions are likely to be opposed by many employers as increasing costs and bureaucracy. Some may regard this employer opposition as sufficient proof that any restrictions are misguided.”