Simon Parkinson, CEO and General Secretary, Workers’ Education Association (WEA)

Joining-up Adult Education Funding

Adult Education was refreshingly prominent in the recent General Election campaign, with all major parties making a series of promises and funding commitments. This was welcome after a decade of under investment, leading to a decline in participation in adult learning across the UK.

Now is the time for the new Conservative Government to keep its promises to individuals and communities across the country. The inclusion of £3bn over the next Parliament for “a new National Skills Fund” was eye-catching when it appeared in the Queen’s Speech.

In a post-Brexit UK, with an overall political ambition of “levelling up”, a joined-up package of reforms including the National Retraining Scheme, the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, the continuing devolution of the Adult Education Budget and the National Skills Fund, is key.

A Minister for Adult Education and Skills

To ensure this joined up approach, the time has come for a National Adult Learning & Skills Strategy, led by the newly appointed Minister for Adult Education & Skills.

This would raise the profile of adult education and skills development and alert policy-makers and funders to the many ways in which adult learning already works for outcomes in health, community participation and cultural awareness as well as the more obvious progressions in employability, economic participation, skills and education.

Three Areas for the National Skills Fund

To drive real change the National Skills Fund should focus on three main areas:

1. The smaller the business

First, SMEs. The smaller the business, the less likely it is to have the resources to invest in training. Training for SMEs needs to be flexible in time and location, tailored closely to the needs of employees who wear several hats and require a range of skills and cost effective. Community adult learning providers are well positioned to provide this.

2. Community providers

Secondly, “the Fund … will help to transform the lives of people who have not got onto the work ladder and lack qualifications”.

Community providers, such as the WEA, have a solid track record in supporting adults in precisely this situation, providing the first step back and helping develop the confidence to learn. Often, the crucial element in making provision accessible is the social and community aspect, the opportunity to learn, face to face, in a supportive group with a tutor who engages as a peer not a sage.

There is an increasing tendency to assume that flexible learning is only delivered online. The Fund should support a more blended approach which includes community-based and workplace learning alongside an online offering. And it should meet the needs of employers, of course, but it should also recognise how potential learners can find their way into the scheme and, by definition, those not on the “work ladder” will require the support of community providers.

3. The specific needs of older learners

Third, the Fund supports “people who are keen to return to work from, say, raising a family, or switch from one career to another”. Adult learning is often about supporting people through transitions and reducing the barriers to learning which people face when returning to work or facing redeployment in later life. Sharing best practice on how to tailor provision for specific groups will help to make the Fund fully inclusive.

So often training programmes are focused on those at the start of their career. Apprenticeships are in theory available to all ages, yet only 9% of starts in England last year were for people over 45. More focus needs to be given to the specific needs of older learners and the ongoing contribution they can make.

Start with the Community Adult Learning Sector

Even at this stage the National Skills Fund is looking to support a wide range of people; employees of SMEs, adults who are unemployed, adults who are returning to the workplace, low- skilled workers and employees looking to change career. If we are to provide the range of opportunities needed to support these groups, investment into the educational infrastructure will be needed. The community adult learning sector is a powerful starting point for investment as it is the part of the education system which is already delivering flexible and accessible provision for adult learners of all ages, abilities and backgrounds.

The National Skills Fund needs to meet the needs of employers and the needs of the economy but above all it needs to meet the needs of the adult population who are in work or want to be in work. In a rapidly changing landscape that will require nuanced and carefully targeted support, from trusted, high quality providers who can engage fully with learners and employers.

Recommendation 1

The National Skills Fund should be embedded within a national Adult Education and Skills Strategy led by the Minister for Skills.

Recommendation 2

In the first instance, the National Skills Fund should be used to invest in community-based adult learning providers who support those furthest from the workplace.

Recommendation 3

The National Skills Fund should help to train and retrain adults of all ages from 24 at least up to the state pension age of 66 and if possible, beyond.

Simon Parkinson, CEO and General Secretary, Workers’ Education Association (WEA)

   

Making a Success of the National Skills Fund

As we enter the 2020s, adults and employers are confronted with unprecedented economic and labour market change, in this context NCFE and Campaign for Learning asked twelve authors to set out their initial thoughts on the National Skills Fund, and the journey towards a ‘right to retraining’. 

These leading thinkers recommend policies for the reform of adult education to support a changing economy in this collection of articles.

Exploring the proposed National Skills Fund and an individual’s right to retraining in more detail, these articles highlight some of the major challenges the policy faces, alongside issues which are set to further impact the economy.

The authors are:

You may also be interested in these articles:

Advertisers

Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 2 days ago

RT @FENews: NGWLive: Network Rail: NGWLive: Network Rail https://t.co/zqS6YwqgxP
View Original Tweet

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 2 days ago

City of London Corporation provides Square Mile schoolchildren with food vouchers during half term break:… https://t.co/QilxKc8yaD
View Original Tweet

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.

Podcasts

We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

Events

FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page