From education to employment

Government to cut 5,000 ‘low value’ adult courses

Skills Minister Matthew Hancock has announced plans to streamline the adult skills system by cutting funding to more than 5,000 “low value” qualifications.

The government said nearly £200 million of the adult skills budget will be redirected towards higher quality and the most relevant qualifications under its reform plan.

“Small qualifications in coaching angling, aerial balloon displays and self-tanning are not a good use of taxpayers’ money or learners’ time,” said Mr Hancock.

“There are currently 15,400 regulated qualifications, and even with the restrictions we have made so far, 11,000 of them are eligible for government funding. This means the system is complicated, bureaucratic and hard to understand, and we need to change that.”

The move was backed by Nigel Whitehead, Commissioner for the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, who said it would give employers and learners more confidence in the quality and relevance of Apprenticeships and vocational qualifications.

However, the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) warned that such courses can help adults who find returning to learning to be an extremely anxious experience.

NIACE chief executive David Hughes said: “Often, people find so-called ‘low-value’ courses a great way to step back into learning, to help them rebuild their confidence and they then go on to take further courses and qualifications.

“We are also concerned that blanket rules about the size of qualifications will mean that good and useful courses and qualifications will be axed. Also it can be a challenge for adults to find the time and space to learn in their busy and crowded lives. This means they may be more motivated into learning by smaller qualifications so the key is to build confidence and self-esteem in many adults with smaller courses before they get onto a qualification which is more work-focussed.

“Cutting off any ‘re-entry point’ or other opportunity that stops adults from learning could mean many people will miss out in the future with obvious knock-on effects for the well-being of the economy and society.”

Natalie Thornhill

(Pictured: Skills Minister Matthew Hancock)

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