Rationale

Create a distinct fund for adults who need essential employability skills
The current proposal is to create one Skills Fund and it appears likely this will be focussed on level 3 and above. This could exclude thousands who need education to progress, but don’t have basic skills or meet the entry criteria to be considered for level 3 study.

Maintain the current level of funding for adult education prioritising essential skills
We believe an investment of £1 billion per year, for the next three years, will allow education organisations like us to give opportunity to those who need it most, and are not yet ready for level 3 study

Remove the economic skills trap that creates barriers to study for the disadvantaged
There are so many barriers to the unemployed and low paid. To name but a few:

  • To gain access to Level 3 study, funded by the National Skills Fund, you need to meet entry criteria which many do not have
  • If you are over 24 and earn above the minimum wage you cannot access full funding for Level 2 study except for maths, English and IT, where you might need other qualifications to progress to Level 3
  • If you need more than one Level 3 qualification to enter a career, the National Skills Fund will not fund it

We encourage Government to break these barriers down, opening doors to opportunities for thousands of adults to upskill for the jobs the country needs.

Launch a national awareness campaign of adult learning financial support
Multiple studies have shown that adults, particularly those in disadvantaged areas, are unaware of the education provision available, or the funding support to cover fees and childcare. We ask the Government to run a national awareness campaign and to invest in fit-for-purpose information, advice and guidance for adults.

Legislate that Specialist Designated Institutions have equal rights to grant funding
Because we play such an important role in reaching those furthest from study, and least likely to attend a traditional colleges, we’d like the Government to ensure that the new legislation confirms that education charities like the WEA should have equal rights to grant funding as further education colleges. With the slip of a policy-maker’s pen, our vital work might be put at risk.