FURTHER education colleges hold the key to attracting foreign companies to the United Kingdom and should join local and regional partnerships to boost inward investment, according to business experts.
The Invest in Britain Bureau, which promotes inward investment at home and abroad, says that most overseas companies want to be sure that they are investing in areas which have strong and sustainable skills bases.
The IBB says that FE colleges, the biggest providers of vocational and professional training in the country, play a crucial role in investment decisions.
Peter McDermott, of the IBB, said: "Without the efforts of the FE sector, much of the promotion of the UK as a foreign direct investment destination would be a waste."
Mr McDermott spoke at a seminar organised by the Further Education Development Agency to help colleges develop local regional partnerships with training and enterprise councils and local companies. FEDA says that such partnerships have proved valuable in attracting foreign investment.
Money is available to colleges through the Government's competitiveness fund to help them set up local and regional partnership projects. FEDA is also to conduct the first ever audit of colleges' business and industry links. A pilot project will be held later this year.