Labour Party leader Keir Starmer has visited Coventry College to hear how the FE institution is equipping young and mature students with the skills and experience to thrive in a post-Covid world.
Starmer, along with Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green, MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill Liam Byrne, and Councillor George Duggins, Leader of Coventry City Council, dropped by the College’s Henley campus to find out more about the opportunities and challenges facing the further education sector.
They met with students, apprentices and employers who are benefiting from apprenticeships during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as finding out more about the College’s careers clinics that are helping adults who have been furloughed or made redundant to re-train in a new career.
The visit also incorporated a tour of the College’s industry-focused facilities, ranging from engineering and catering, to sport and digital; followed by a Q&A session with employers, learners, apprentices and staff.
Gill Banks, CEO at Coventry College, said: “The impact of the Coronavirus pandemic has thrust the role of colleges and further education further into the limelight now more than ever, as we provide students, including those who have been furloughed or made redundant with a chance to study, top up their skills or pursue a new career.
“This has been recognised right at the top of government, and we were delighted to welcome Keir Starmer, Kate Green, Liam Byrne and George Duggins to see first hand some of the work we are doing with students and employers at our top class facilities.
“We support more than 8,000 students across Coventry and Warwickshire to prepare for life in the workplace - 500 of which are apprentices - an avenue that we feel is only going to grow in the future.
“Keir, Kate, Liam and George recognised the fundamental role that FE plays in giving the next generation the right tools to fill future skilled job opportunities - whether that is in engineering, construction, or digital to name a few - and the fact that the FE sector needs additional funding to help colleges to meet rising demand and excel further over the coming years.
“This has been a challenging period for the country as a whole and, as a college, we are really proud of the way that our students and staff have supported one another through the pandemic, and we are excited to welcome everyone back in September.”
Sue Noyes, Chair of the Corporation and Governor at Coventry College, added: “Welcoming Keir Starmer, Kate Green, Liam Byrne and George Duggins to our campus was a fantastic opportunity to showcase some of the great work that the College is doing through challenging times for society as a whole.
“Bringing together our students, apprentices and employers provided a powerful message that Colleges and employers need to work closely over the coming months to maximise employment opportunities for young and mature students as we go forward”
Leader of the Labour Party Keir Starmer said: “Coventry has always been at the heart of British manufacturing and a skilled workforce is key to maintaining and building on that. Institutions like Coventry College have a vital role in equipping the workers of tomorrow with the tools they need for a changing jobs market.
“It was a pleasure to meet students, staff, apprentices and local industry leaders to hear first-hand their experiences during these challenging times.”
Councillor George Duggins, Leader of Coventry City Council said, “It’s always a pleasure to visit Coventry College. But it’s clear that the further education sector will be more important than ever as we emerge out of the current situation. It’s likely that young people will be disproportionally impacted so colleges, like this one here in our city, will have a key role to play to help equip young people with the skills they need to access a job.
“Here in Coventry our education and skills partnership will be really important. And we know that having a job changes everything – so this is sector that needs strong support.”