Iain Duncan Smith highlights importance of colleges

21st January 2019

Speaking in a debate on college funding, Iain Duncan Smith highlights the work of the excellent Waltham Forest College and the importance of colleges in helping people upskill and change skills and therefore achieve advancement in the workplace.

A recent report by the Centre for Social Justice showed that only 15% of people in the UK who start work at entry level will ever rise above that level, and that is one of the lowest percentages in the developed world. Does my right hon. Friend agree that colleges such the excellent Waltham Forest College are key if people are to upskill and change skills, and that we should not, therefore, write people off at the age of 16, 17 or 18, or even 35 or 40? Colleges such as the ones that he and I have mentioned are in a real position to help people to achieve that, and therefore, in some senses, they are more important even than universities.

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right. Colleges are very important for social justice because they help to give people from disadvantaged backgrounds the chance to climb the education ladder of opportunity, even though we know that life chances are largely influenced during the time before a child starts school. The Education Committee, which I chair, will soon be producing a report on that subject.