There were 1.3 million fewer adults in further education last year compared to 2010, according to new data published today from the Skills Funding Agency.
Adults aged 19+ are entitled to free or subsidised courses depending on their financial circumstances and qualifications they already hold. This enables working people to train, retrain or up-skill, and businesses to benefit from people with English, maths, ICT and other important qualifications.
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But year on year cuts to further education are affecting sixth formers as well as adults has meant that colleges and other providers are struggling to offer courses people need alongside meeting the Government’s priorities.
David Hughes, NIACE Chief Executive, said, “Our analysis has revealed that, excluding apprenticeships, there are 1.3 million fewer adults in further education since 2010. Whilst the situation is shocking now, I’m fearful that things will get progressively worse as a result of funding decisions which will be revealed in next week’s Spending Review.
“Lifelong learning plays a vital role in ensuring that adults of all ages have opportunities to get on in work and in life. Far too many people, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, are already missing out. This not only threatens their own life chances, but damages the prospects for increased workforce productivity and for sustained economic growth.
“This is despite growing concern from business over debilitating skills shortages and skills gaps; basic English, maths and digital skills deficits of people in and entering the labour market; an ageing working population and a widely reported productivity crisis.
“Government needs to use this Spending Review to make an important commitment to prioritise investment in learning, skills and employment and address the collapse in adult learning. This is critical to nurturing our economy, helping to strengthen productivity and ensuring that economic growth is inclusive.”