From education to employment

Ailing Families Supported by Investment in FE for Long Term Education Involvement

More than £315 million of government funding will go to address the startling rise in the percentage of British families unable to afford the increasing costs of further education.

New research commissioned by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) indicates as many as 69% of households earning under £30,000 are unable to meet the minimum spending requirements for their 16-19 year olds. More tellingly though, only 31% of households earning under £30,000 could afford to provide for their children’s college trips, lunches, course materials and other expenditure, which equates to approximately £34 a week.

Rising Costs of Education

As an indication of the rising costs of education, the majority of parents struggled to afford £12 a week, citing increasing debt levels, low-income salaries and mounting financial commitments as reasons. And it is this cost that the government seeks to remedy with the Education Maintenance Allowance. “EMA helps young people pay for essential costs,” explains Education Minister Maria Eagle.

She underlines the increasingly skills-based global environment and the importance of further education, saying: “By 2010 we know that very few jobs will be open to people without qualifications and it is in everyone’s interests that young people remain in education or training after 16″.

An Increase for E2E

In acknowledgement of this, the EMA funding has been significantly increased to reach a further 65,000 students. From 10th April 2006, those starting an LSC-funded Entry-to-Employment (E2E) programme, or a course that leads to an apprenticeship, will be eligible to apply. The EMA for these students replaces the troubled Minimum Training Allowance (MTA), which was burdened by having other benefit payments deducted from it.

“As EMA is paid in addition to other benefits, it will be particularly helpful to learners from lower income families”, claims Rathbone Chief Executive, Richard Williams. More than 400,000 learners received EMA payments in the period 2004-2005. The rising level of expenditure invested into this sector will go some way to alleviate the impoverished students genuinely trying to attain a better skills-set.

“EMA is making a real difference to young people across the country. The financial support EMA provides removes a barrier to learning that some young people face enabling them to continue their education and improve their skills and job prospects”, says Trevor Fellowes, Director of Learning Support at the LSC. “I urge all young people to continue in learning after 16 on one of the many courses EMA is available on”.

Vijay Pattni

How much further can EMA go? Tell us in the FE Blog

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