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Colleges get ready for the Assembly;FE Focus

Huw Richards reports on preparations for a new era of government in Wales

Welsh colleges are to use a report on their economic impact to spearhead their lobbying effort in the run-up to next year's elections for the new National Assembly.

It is the first time further education in Wales has commissioned its own research.

"We need the data in this report to alert politicians, civil servants and key economic partners to the significant role which further education is playing and can play in the development of Wales," said Mike Jones, chair of Fforwm, the representative body for Welsh FE.

Fforwm commissioned the report from Ieuan Price, ex principal of Carmarthenshire College of Technology and Art, and Gavin Thomas, formerly the Welsh Office inspector responsible for FE. It will be launched at a joint meeting with the Further Education Development Agency on November 3.

Findings show that the 26 colleges employ around 10,000 staff and are responsible for expenditure of about pound;300 million. This includes pound;159m each year from the Further Education Funding Council for Wales and pound;63m over the 1994-9 period - an annual average of pound;12.6m - from the European Community.

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