Welsh Government urged to maintain all-age investment in skills

An education charity has called on Welsh Government to avoid the precedent set by the UK Government in making further severe cuts to adult education funding.

In England, research by the Association of Colleges has found that the 24% cut to adult education funding for 2015/16 will result in 190,000 fewer course places available to adults, and the research predicts the complete disappearance of adult education and training in England by 2020 if funding cuts continue.

Adult education opportunities in Wales have already been reduced with a 37.5% cut to Adult Community Learning last year, alongside an in-year cut to work-based learning and apprenticeships. This was followed up in this year’s Welsh Government budget with a 50% cut to part-time course in Further Education, causing concern across the education sector, with job losses and the removal of some courses expected.

John Graystone, Interim Director of NIACE Cymru, said he understood that Welsh Government had to make tough choices due to the budgetary constraints, but investment in learning for adults was key to increasing skill levels, economic activity and improving the health of the nation.

He added:

“Adult education is an investment, not a cost, and Welsh Government must not follow the dangerous precedent being set in England.

Wales has an increasingly ageing population, with people working longer, and investment in their skills training is needed far beyond the completion of compulsory education.

With a number of cuts already made to the adult learning budget in recent years, Welsh Government must step up to the plate to increase the number of adults participating in learning. Colleagues in England are warning that further cuts there could lead to the disappearance of adult education by the end of this decade – a truly frightening prospect.

Not only does adult education boost skill levels and employability, but there are benefits for individuals and society – including improved health and wellbeing, reduced crime rates and improved community cohesion.”