AoC’s Chief Executive, David Hughes

@AoC_info: Government’s ambition for getting people back into jobs won’t work without immediate boost to adult funding 

Colleges have today (24 Nov) said that its flagship National Skills Fund is at risk unless funding rates are improved. The National Skills Fund supports the government’s ambition to get people retrained quickly and to help them avoid falling into poverty. 

Funding rates for adult skills and education need to be set at the same level as those for 16-19 year-olds if the programme is to be successful in reaching hundreds of thousands of people. 

Budgets for adult skills programmes were cut by 40% in the first half of the last decade and have been fixed in cash terms since then despite inflation. Together with  the introduction of loans to replace grants in 2013-14 for a range of 19+ courses, this has significantly reduced the number of adults learning.

The report reveals that even at the maximum class size, none of the practical courses vital to the nation’s recovery are viable at current funding rates. This is no surprise given how inflation has eroded the rates over 10 years and how many of the courses suitable have high costs for materials. 

AoC is calling for the Spending Review to make the following reforms to adult education: 

  • Increase the core funding rates for the Single Activity Matrix (SAM) to bring equity with the 16-19 funding rate;
  • Implement the High Value Courses Premium as per the 16-19 methodology;

AoC’s Chief Executive, David Hughes said: 

“Today’s findings show that thousands of adults who find themselves out of work and require retraining are at risk of being left behind. Adult education has been neglected in education policy for too long. The government’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee extending full funding for a first Level 3 qualification to adults over the age of 23 was a welcome step but our analysis shows that without a funding rate increase, those ambitions will not be achieved. 

“As the report shows, the courses needed to train key workers and productive sectors that will get the country moving again simply cost too much to deliver compared with current rates. A failure to act will leave businesses without skilled workers and people in long-term unemployment and poverty.” 

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