News By Wire

West Yorkshire Principals take case for extra skills investment to Westminster

Leaders from across West Yorkshire have been speaking with MPs at Westminster as part of a national campaign to bring skills to the forefront of the government’s agenda.

Principals from Leeds City College, Leeds College of Building, Keighley, Bradford, Kirklees, Shipley and Calderdale colleges, joined hundreds of leaders from across the country in calling for fairer funding, a right to lifelong learning, and support for local skills shortages.

Following 12 years of declining funding for adults and young people, a 2022 report from the Open University and British Chambers of Commerce found that more than 68 per cent of SMEs are currently facing skills shortages, rising to 86 per cent in large organisations.

Bill Jones, Executive Principal at Leeds City College, said:

“Education, particularly further education, has been central to the skills agenda for some time, and the sector has been tirelessly campaigning in order to get the necessary support from government to successfully close the skills gap.

“All the industries where skills shortages are being felt most acutely are bridged by Level 4 or 5 skills and qualifications, which are delivered in further education colleges. We will continue campaigning collectively to keep FE front of mind and to remind government of the important role it plays.”

As part of the campaign on 1 March, the principals were involved in a panel discussion, organised by the Future Skills Coalition, that focused on how the lack of funding for colleges is having a direct impact on the sector’s ability to deliver the skilled workers the economy needs.

Nikki Davis, Leeds College of Building Principal & CEO, said:

“Colleges are vital in addressing significant skills gaps across the economy, including the next generation of skilled construction professionals. Research shows that around a quarter of a million extra construction workers will be needed by 2026 to meet growing demands on the UK sector, and to counter an ageing workforce.

“Without additional investment in further education, we will not be able to fill critical shortages in priority areas – such as net-zero carbon emissions and Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) – and deliver the diverse labour market the country needs.”

According to the Learning & Work Institute (L&W), 9 million working-aged adults in England have low basic skills in literacy or numeracy, including 5 million who have low skills in both.

Palvinder Singh, Principal and Chief Executive at Kirklees College, said:

“Adult education is essential to local and regional skills needs and for the social mobility of thousands of learners.

“Insufficient funding for our adult provision limits opportunities for adult learners to gain the vital skills to support the future workforce and economy. This provision is essential for economic growth and productivity.”

For more information on the campaign, visit Mind the skills gap – Parliamentary activity | Association of Colleges website.

Press release information


Image File:

West Yorkshire Principals campaigning for fair funding for Further Education and skills: (L-R) Diana Bird Principal of Shipley College, David Malone Principal of Calderdale College, Nikki Davis Principal of Leeds College of Building, Kevin O’Hare Principal of Keighley College, Bill Jones Executive Principal of Leeds City College, David Hughes Chief Executive at the Association of Colleges, and Chris Webb CEO and Principal of Bradford College.

Area / Region:

Topics / Tags:

Notes to editors

Notes to the editor The national campaign, Mind the Skills Gap, is organised by the Association of Colleges, and aims to highlight to parliamentarians, Government and other key decision makers that without further investment in further education we will not be able to fill the skills gaps in key areas of the economy and deliver the labour market the country needs. About Leeds City College Leeds City College is one of the largest Further Education institutions in the country with more than 20,000 students and is one of the biggest providers of apprenticeships regionally. It is part of Luminate Education Group and operates out of four main campuses; Printworks, Park Lane, Quarry Hill and Mabgate, with smaller provisions in communities across the city. It provides a vibrant and diverse learning environment, delivering excellent and innovative education which is supportive, inspiring and life-changing. Leeds City College’s values put students first and are at the heart of everything the college does. The courses at Leeds City College cover almost all subject areas and include full-time and part-time academic and vocational qualifications at multiple levels for pre-16, post-16 and 19+ (adults) options. From apprenticeships to A levels and the newly-developed T Levels, Leeds City College’s qualifications ensure every student can take steps towards success. About Leeds College of Building Leeds College of Building was established in 1960 and is the only specialist general further education construction college in the UK. Over 5,500 students attend a comprehensive range of more than 200 courses related to construction and the built environment. In total, the College trains nearly 2,800 apprentices across all areas of provision, working with around 800 employers from across the UK. Over the last five years, higher-level courses have grown to represent a significant proportion of the College’s provision. Around 80% of delivery in the new Leeds College of Building University Centre (UC) now covers Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeships, Higher, and Degree Apprenticeships. About Kirklees College Kirklees College is an award-winning college with over 10,000 students across Kirklees. The college boasts specialist vocational centres, including Engineering Centre, Process Manufacturing Centre, Taylor Hill Centre for Animal Care, Brunel Construction Centre (Huddersfield) and Pioneer Higher Skills Centre (Dewsbury). The college’s commitment to creating opportunities and changing lives has resulted in the following accolades: • Ofsted Good rating • ACC Construction Apprenticeship Provider of the Year 2021 • Skills and Education Group Showcase Centre – Counselling • Disability Confident Employer • Official Partner of Huddersfield Town Football Club

Media contact

Media contact name:

Kathy Sharpe

Media contact business / organisation:

Sharpe Communications

Media contact telephone:


Media contact email:

All done!
Thank you for subscribing.

Email Subscription