I will carry on, if that is okay.
We are on the cusp of technological change and the advent of the fourth industrial revolution, and we are transitioning to a low-carbon economy. FE has a vital role to play in that by providing the skilled workforce that the UK needs to be a global leader. In Lowestoft, the energy skills centre is being built at East Coast College. It will provide students with the skills required for exciting, well-paid jobs in the fast-emerging offshore wind sector.
FE also better prepares students for university. The University of Suffolk has come a long way in a short time. It works closely with FE colleges across the county. A properly funded FE sector is vital if the early success is to continue to be built on.
The T-level initiative is welcome, but to be a success it needs to be properly funded. In towns such as Lowestoft, the college is an important component part of the local community and civic society.
I have got to the end without mentioning the “B” word, but I will do so now. Whatever happens with Brexit, there is no getting away from the fact that the British economy is competing in a global market. Our people are the engine of our success. At present, due to a poorly funded FE sector, we are stuttering along in third gear. It is time to fill the tank—or, should I say, charge the battery—so that we are running in top gear.