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Adult Education: Disadvantaged

Question for Department for Education

UIN 42023, tabled on 1 May 2020

To ask the Secretary of State, what steps he is taking to increase participation rates in adult education by people in lower socio-economic groups.

Answered on

11 May 2020

The department recognises the importance of adult education in supporting the economy and tackling disadvantage. Participation in adult education will only become more important as people live longer lives and automation and technological change the profile of the jobs market.

We are continuing to invest in adult education to support people from all backgrounds. Most recently, we announced an extra £3 billion, over the course of this Parliament, for a new National Skills Fund (NSF) to help people learn new skills and prepare for the economy of the future.

The NSF will transform the lives of people who are not in work or who wish to improve their qualifications as well as people who are keen to return to work from raising a family or who wish to change to a different career. It will not only make this country more prosperous but will also make it fairer.

We are also continuing to invest in the Adult Education Budget (AEB) (we are investing £1.34 billion in 2019/20 and 2020/21). The AEB fully funds or co-funds skills provision for eligible adults aged 19 and above from pre-entry to level 3 in order to support them to gain the skills that they need for work, an apprenticeship or further learning.

Through the AEB, providers are able to fully fund learners who are employed and in receipt of a low wage and who cannot contribute towards the cost of co-funding fees. The AEB also funds colleges and providers to help adult learners to overcome barriers which prevent them from taking part in learning. This includes Learner Support, which supports learners with a specific financial hardship.

For the 2019/20 academic year, we are continuing to support those in work on low incomes to access the AEB through a trial, which allows providers to fully fund eligible learners on low wages. This directly supports social mobility by enabling those that have moved out of unemployment, and are low paid or low-skilled, to further progress.

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