Truro and Penwith College is lending its support to a major national plan for economic recovery and has written to all Cornish MPs asking them to do the same.

The report from the Association of Colleges (AOC) – ‘Rebuild: A skills-led recovery plan’ – looks at the potential impact of recession and how young people and disadvantaged adults will suffer disproportionately.

It warns of increased demand for college places as high unemployment crowds young people out of the labour market; large numbers of young people needing support to catch up as a result of lost learning in lockdown; reductions in apprenticeship places, a large number of apprentice redundancies and a shortage of new places for apprentices; and large numbers of adults requiring training to help them move from struggling sectors into those that recover more quickly, or even grow.

David Hughes, CEO of The Association of Colleges, said: “A government commitment of £3.6 billion would help 764,000 young people and disadvantaged adults get the education and training they need to make their path into jobs smoother and easier as the country rebuilds.”

David Walrond, principal of Truro and Penwith College, said: “It was hugely encouraging to have the Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson confirm earlier this month that ‘as the country rebuilds, colleges will be at the heart of the recovery’. What is needed now is for Cornish MPs and their colleagues in Treasury to support that shared aim of government and colleges for accelerated economic recovery.

“After a decade of disinvestment in further education, this will be skills investment for major economic returns. In Cornwall, given the projections of the local impact of the present crisis, the need is particularly acute.”

Welcoming the report, Kim Conchie, CEO of the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, said: “This strange time has given us all a moment to take stock. One common theme that has emerged from business thinking is that, to go forward in sustainable and different directions, we need people with 21st Century skills.

“This AoC report captures precisely what is needed and how it could be delivered. Cornwall Chamber of Commerce urges employers, workers needing to rethink their skill set and educators to embrace its insight and to use its positivity to allow us to emerge with new optimism.”

Glenn Caplin-Grey, chief executive of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, added: “Skills are the bedrock of any economy and we must not let the pandemic create a lost generation. COVID-19 has laid bare regional differences in our economy and FE colleges are ideally placed to respond to the skills and training needs of their local communities and businesses. We wholeheartedly endorse calls for a recovery plan which has skills at its heart.”

The ‘Rebuild: A skills-led recovery plan’ is calling on Government for another “bold and necessary” course of action to reduce the post post-furlough shock, minimise the risk of economic scarring, and prepare the country for the rebuild by:

  1. Guaranteeing a high quality, education or training place for every 16 to 18-year old, funded to meet their needs and the learning lost
  2. Offering a suite of work focussed training programmes, including expanded traineeships and apprenticeships designed to get young people into jobs as soon as they become available. This should include a comprehensive bursary system and incentives for employers
  3. Providing support for adults who lose their jobs to train or retrain flexibly up to higher level technical / professional level, aimed at getting them back into the workforce as quickly as possible, with additional training to manage their transition once back in work.

This package, it says, would cost the Treasury £3.6 billion and deliver incentives to businesses and a flexible offer for students. Colleges are ready to deliver in every community across the country to ensure that nobody is left behind, and that we build back better through one of the best prepared future-ready work forces.

Read the full report and recommendations here.