Responding to this afternoon’s Autumn Statement, WEA Chief Executive, Simon Parkinson said:
“Hearing the Chancellor reference the 9m adults in the UK with low levels of literacy or numeracy in this afternoon’s Autumn Statement raised hopes that additional investment might be imminent for community adult learning. Instead he went on to highlight the Advanced British Standard, which will benefit the school leavers of the future but do nothing for those already out of education.
This feels as if the shutters are being pulled down on the current generation of adult learners. Future proofing essential skills is welcome, but it does nothing for the urgent needs that the nation faces now.
The Multiply programme has begun to make inroads on adult numeracy, but where is the additional investment for adult literacy or digital skills? The Chancellor rightly said that growth can only be achieved by investing in our people and yet people over the age of 19, especially those whose skills needs are greatest, will miss out.
We call on the Chancellor to think again in the Spring Budget to invest in community based adult learning, for the most disadvantaged groups in society, to overturn years of underfunding. We also look to him to provide additional funding for the adult education workforce where post-19 tutors have seen none of the uplift which their colleagues in schools and colleges have recently received."