People who most need access to education and training are the ones least likely to be able to get it, says a report released yesterday (29 Jan).
The report, from the Social Mobility Commission, says that people from the lowest socio-economic backgrounds are the least likely to receive adult skills investment, and that employers are more likely to invest in those with higher skills while better-off individuals are also more likely to fund their own training.
The report warns that this results in widening existing skills gaps as people from working class backgrounds are less likely to have higher skills – and are less likely to earn high wages – than their peers from better off backgrounds.
It also highlights how the UK, compared to its main competitors, spends relatively little on vocational skills and investment in labour market support to increase adult skill levels. It says that between 2010-11 and 2015-16, the government Adult Skills budget in England fell by 34 per cent in real terms.
The University and College Union (UCU) said the report demonstrated the benefits of education and training and that it was vital that opportunities were open to all.
UCU head of policy Matt Waddup said: ‘This report captures the importance of education and training, but exposes how the people who might most benefit are being failed by the current system. Improved skills deliver benefits at work and in people’s personal lives, yet opportunities are restricted for the most vulnerable in our society.
‘We have seen huge cuts to adult education at a time when the further education sector should be at the centre of our planning for the future. The government needs to urgently invest in adult education with targeted support to ensure that everyone who can benefit can access opportunities to improve their skills.’