College's 'staffing crisis could undermine levelling-up', MP warns

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Waveney MP Peter Aldous - Credit: Jamie Honeywood

A college's "staffing crisis" could undermine efforts to "level-up" parts of East Anglia, Waveney's MP has claimed.

Speaking at Prime Minsiter's Questions on Wednesday, Peter Aldous highlighted East Coast College's "increasing difficulty" to hire and keep staff in a number of key fields.

He said: “There are great opportunities to create exciting new jobs in low-carbon energy along the East Anglian coast and East Coast College is up for the challenge of providing local people with the necessary skills.

East Coast College Lowestoft campus

East Coast College has sites in Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth - Credit: East Coast College/LEADERBOARD_PHOTOGRAPHY

“However, they and other colleges are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit and retain teachers in such work as fabrication, engineering and construction.

"Will my right honourable friend ensure that the Government come up with a cross-departmental strategy to address this staffing crisis in our further education colleges which could undermine the levelling-up agenda?”

Justice secretary Dominic Raab in London

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab was standing in at PMQs due to Boris Johnson’s attendance at a Nato summit - Credit: PA/Aaron Chown

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab, who was standing in at PMQs due to Boris Johnson’s attendance at a Nato summit, responded, saying: "My honourable friend is absolutely right and that is why we are investing nearly £52 million to support the sector in recruiting and retaining excellent staff and in particular looking and focussing on the experience and the skills that we can often find in industry to train the next generation of technical experts."

David Hughes, Association of Colleges' chief executive, said: “It is good to hear the Deputy Prime Minister recognise the enormous impact colleges face in struggling to recruit skilled and experienced staff to teach the skills the economy and businesses need.

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"I want to thank the chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Further Education and Lifelong Learning Peter Aldous for raising it in the Commons.

“Pay in colleges lags behind what staff could earn in industry or even schools.

"This is leading to a growing staffing crisis and forcing some courses to be cancelled altogether.

"This will hinder the Government’s ambitious skills agenda and damage plans to boost productivity and fill job vacancies in low carbon growth sectors.

“I have written to Nadhim Zahawi seeking emergency funding to boost staff pay and I appreciate the engagement I have had with the Education Secretary and his officials on this vital matter.”

East Coast College has campuses in Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth.