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Adult Education

Question for Department for Education

UIN HL17942, tabled on 30 September 2019

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to introduce a long-term plan to support adult education, retraining and lifelong learning.

Answered on

8 October 2019

We have a number of current and future programmes in place, and planned, to support adults and lifelong learning.

Our adult skills system seeks to improve productivity, employment levels and social inclusion. It supports people who are starting out in their careers, those who want to upskill and those who want or need to change careers.

Adult skills and lifelong learning provision includes:

  • The Adult Education Budget (AEB)
  • The National Retraining Scheme
  • Apprenticeships

The AEB fully funds or co-funds skills provision for eligible adults aged 19 and above from pre-entry to level 3 (including traineeships) to help them gain the skills they need for work, an apprenticeship or further learning. It also enables flexible tailored programmes of learning to be made available which do not need to include a qualification. From 1 August 2019, approximately half of the AEB has been devolved to 6 Mayoral Combined Authorities (MCAs) and the Mayor of London acting through the Greater London Authority (GLA). From this date the MCAs and the GLA can use the devolved AEB to shape education and skills provision in a way that best fits the needs of their residents and local economy. The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) will be responsible for funding AEB learners resident in non-devolved areas.

Part-time and flexible courses are key to enabling adults to access higher education. The government has taken steps to ensure the funding system supports more flexible learning at undergraduate degree level. This includes introducing part-time tuition fee loans to cover the upfront cost of part-time courses, part-time students being able to access full-time equivalent maintenance loans and removing the equivalent or lower qualification restrictions for all part-time STEM degree courses.

The National Retraining Scheme is a new programme which is currently being developed as part of the government’s answer to the transforming world of work. The National Retraining Scheme will help prepare adults for the future changes to the economy, including those brought about by automation, and help them retrain into better jobs.

Our reforms to apprenticeships are benefiting people of all ages and backgrounds, including adults developing their skills. We have given employers the flexibility to offer apprenticeships to both new recruits and existing staff, supporting the creation of quality workplace training opportunities and life-long learning.