Learning and Work Institute Wales Manifesto

Skills for Prosperity highlights figures that show an adult aged between 18 and 24 will have more than 100 times more spent on their education than someone aged between 50 and 74. The figures come following stark warnings from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, who warned last week that working age poverty has risen, and from the Bevan Foundation whose latest figures predict that by 2020, 1 in 12 adults in Wales will have no qualifications .

The manifesto makes a series of asks of the next Welsh Government, including using libraries, community centres and schools as centres of learning for the whole community to ensure their long term viability and prevent closures, and also calls on the Government to enter into PIAAC – an international comparison of adult skills, similar to the PISA tests for schools which Wales fared poorly in, in 2012.

It also calls for changes to legislation which means local councils aren’t expected to provide the same level of education for adults as for teenagers and school age children, and highlights apprenticeships and part-time learning as alternatives to the now established route into full time higher education.

Speaking at the launch event, Cerys Furlong, Director of Learning and Work Institute Wales, said:

“It’s time for a radical rethink about education in Wales. Nobody can argue with the need to invest in a solid foundation of education for our children, but this should not be at the expense of cutting any opportunity to learn as an adult. If we carry on down the current route of cutting all forms of adult education, part time or flexible learning then we will not be able to supply the highly skilled workforce Wales needs, and far too many adults will still have poor basic skills that mean they are not able to participate fully in life”

There are more people not in education, employment or training between the age of 50 and retirement, than there are under 25. Yet, funding remains in places for several schemes for young people, while adults continue to see their opportunities removed.

Our manifesto today offers a number of practical solutions which could transform education across the board, but they must be adopted along with a fresh mindset about the value we place on educating adults.

Adult education can increase productivity and improve economic growth, it can improve the wellbeing of those taking part, it can reduce crime; but most importantly, it gives people second chances, and it transforms live. We can’t afford to lose it.”

Also speaking at event, Claire Arnold, who won an Inspire! Award during Adult Learners’ Week this year talked about the impact adult education had on her life:

“I struggled at school – I was never a high flyer, and a I left with no qualifications at all. I’d always wanted to be a teacher but I didn’t think I was good enough.

I never would have dreamed of going to college or university, and I spent a few years working as a Care Assistant. When I got a job later as a Learning Support Assistant, the school supported me to complete a Foundation Degree at a local adult education centre.

This transformed my life, and I’ve gone on to complete another degree, and I’m a qualified teacher now! I was lucky to have the opportunity to have a second chance at education, and I’m giving something back now – teaching at Monkton Priory, and helping children to overcome some of the barriers they face.”