Jeremy Miles at a podium
Jeremy Miles at a podium

I welcome the announcement that £65m of new funding is being allocated to help colleges and universities reach net zero.

The package includes £46m to help post-16 education and community learning providers reduce their carbon footprint and improve their digital connectivity.

The Welsh Labour Government has committed to reach net zero by 2050 – part of that commitment includes the recent announcement from Welsh Labour’s Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles MS, that all new school and college buildings will be required to meet net zero carbon targets.

Education providers will use the funding on innovative plans to improve their carbon footprints, as well as improvements to infrastructure, such as converting to LED lighting and increasing the number of electric car charging points.

New training materials will also be developed for college students to learn about net zero carbon Zero part of their training, adapted for the wide range of courses available in further education. For example, students on hairdressing or beauty courses may learn about the origin of the chemicals they use and disposing of them in an environmentally friendly way. Students on construction courses will learn about renewable energy sources and retrofitting.

Funding will also be provided to help further education providers meet the increased costs of consumable materials, such as bricks and timber, which are used in many vocational college courses. The cost of steel, for example, is known to have increased significantly during the pandemic.

The funding will also be used to support post-16 learners in response to Covid-19, such as through mentoring and increased mental health support. This is in addition to £8 million announced last week to support further education colleges with meeting the cost of enabling in-person learning to continue safely, as well as a recruitment campaign to attract more staff to the sector.

£10m will also be provided for future research activity aligned to Welsh Government priorities at higher education institutions.

“Tackling climate change is of course a core part of my work as minister for Climate Change, something I am committed to both personally and politically, so I’m pleased that the Welsh Labour Government is taking this action – this new funding will help colleges and universities reach net zero. 

“As major employers and places of learning for people who will apply their learning in high-skilled professions, they have an important role to play in the national effort to reach net zero. 

“I’d also like to thank the colleges and universities in Swansea for their tremendous work in enabling learning to continue, all while keeping students and staff safe throughout these difficult past few years.

The Welsh Labour Government has committed to provide £50m of additional funding for post-16 education in the next financial year. This includes a focus on our Renew and Reform programme and doing everything we can to enable our young people to reach their full potential.

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