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College-Employer Collaboration

Volume 721: debated on Monday 24 October 2022

12. What steps his Department is taking to facilitate collaboration between colleges and employers. (901780)

Local skills improvement plans place employers at the heart of local school systems, facilitating more dynamic working arrangements between employers and training providers to make technical education more responsive to employers’ needs in the area. All areas in England now have a designated employer representative body in place to lead on devising their plans.

Does my hon. Friend agree that institutions such as Wigan and Leigh College which work with employers to create bespoke qualifications that lead directly into in-demand work are an excellent blueprint for other educational institutions to follow?

I know that my hon. Friend is a real advocate for colleges in his area and I thank him for his question. Local skills improvement plans will forge stronger and more dynamic partnerships between employers and providers that will enable training to be more responsive to local skills needs. The relationship between Wigan and Leigh College and local employers aligns closely with the aims of this improved collaboration. It is a great example of how stakeholders can work together to meet local skills needs and help people to get good jobs. I would be delighted to visit my hon. Friend’s constituency to see its great work in progress.

I do not know whether the Minister was able to go to the Association of Colleges reception recently, but it was a very good way of meeting all the college leaders. Does she agree that there must be more joined-up thinking and activity between colleges, schools and universities? We were talking about green skills. There seems to be no curriculum at 16 that meshes with that at 18 and 21. I ask her please to talk to colleges and get something moving.

I was at a reception for our Love Our Colleges campaign. I am a true advocate on this matter and one thing I am passionate about is the parity of esteem between vocational and technical qualifications and academic qualifications. I ask Members please to put their trust in us as a Government, because we are fully behind all sectors and we are continuing a dialogue between colleges, schools and universities. As I have said, there have never been more options open to young people, and I am completely proud of our record in government.