Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins backs college's campaign for fair funding

Julie Richards, principal and chief executive of Chesterfield College, and Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins.
Julie Richards, principal and chief executive of Chesterfield College, and Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins.

MP Toby Perkins is supporting Chesterfield College’s campaign to change a funding cap which could lead to a shortage of apprenticeships in the town and North East Derbyshire.

The Labour MP visited the college to find out more about how a recent cap on funding for apprenticeships could mean that small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Chesterfield and North East Derbyshire are unable to take on almost 400 apprentices.

As part of the national Love our Colleges Week campaign, designed to ensure colleges get fair funding, Chesterfield College highlighted how the cap on a particular funding stream for apprenticeships for 16 to 18 year olds has the potential to limit the number of apprentices available.

The college said it has been able to demonstrate how funding issues are restricting the ability for SMEs in the area to grow and develop their business at the same time as limiting choice for young people, who must stay in education and training until they are 18.

Julie Richards, principal and chief executive of Chesterfield College, said: “The Government has made a commitment to increase the number of apprentices to support economic growth but their latest decision to cap funding for apprentices in SME businesses has the potential to have the opposite effect.

“There will still be a need to fund classroom-based education for those who would have chosen apprenticeships. In the long run, all it will achieve is to limit the ability for SMEs to get the talent they need and restrict the ability for young people to earn and learn.”

She added: “At Chesterfield College we work really hard to find the best way for all young people to develop the skills our local economy needs in a way which suits their circumstances. We are campaigning for fair funding to enable us to continue to offer that choice to students and businesses.”

And Mr Perkins said: “These apprenticeship places should be available to young people in Chesterfield and North Derbyshire. This is a powerful sign that the Government needs to take this seriously. I will be going back to parliament to make the case for fairer funding for further education and highlighting that apprenticeship reforms need looking at to make sure they are getting young people on the route to a career.”