WEA sets out manifesto to "level-up" opportunity

 

Manifesto

The UK Government is proposing to reform the funding system for further education in England. We want to ensure this results in opportunity reaching those who need it most – leaving no-one behind. 

We've asked for just five things, in addition to partnering with us to benefit from our unique reach and experience.  

  • Create a distinct fund for adults who need essential employability skills 
  • Maintain the current level of funding for adult education prioritising essential skills 
  • Launch a national awareness campaign of adult learning financial support 
  • Launch a national awareness campaign of adult learning financial support 
  • Legislate that Specialist Designated Institutions have equal rights to grant funding

This is why these five requests matter: 

Create a distinct fund for adults who need essential employability skills 

The current proposal is to create one Skills Fund and it appears likely this will be focussed on level 3 and above. This could exclude thousands who need education to progress, but don’t have basic skills or meet the entry criteria to be considered for level 3 study. 

Maintain the current level of funding for adult education prioritising essential skills 

We believe an investment of £1 billion per year, for the next three years, will allow education organisations like us to give opportunity to those who need it most, and are not yet ready for level 3 study. 

Remove the economic skills trap that creates barriers to study for the disadvantaged 

There are so many barriers to the unemployed and low paid. To name but a few: 

  • To gain access to Level 3 study, funded by the National Skills Fund, you need to meet entry criteria which many do not have 
  • If you are over 24 and earn above the minimum wage you cannot access full funding for Level 2 study except for maths, English and IT, where you might need other qualifications to progress to Level 3 
  • If you need more than one Level 3 qualification to enter a career, the National Skills Fund will not fund it 

We encourage Government to break these barriers down, opening doors to opportunities for thousands of adults to upskill for the jobs the country needs. 

Launch a national awareness campaign of adult learning financial support 

Multiple studies have shown that adults, particularly those in disadvantaged areas, are unaware of the education provision available, or the funding support to cover fees and childcare. We ask the Government to run a national awareness campaign and to invest in fit-for-purpose information, advice and guidance for adults. 

Legislate that Specialist Designated Institutions have equal rights to grant funding 

Because we play such an important role in reaching those furthest from study, and least likely to attend a traditional colleges, we’d like the Government to ensure that the new legislation confirms that education charities like the WEA should have equal rights to grant funding as further education colleges. With the slip of a policy-maker’s pen, our vital work might be put at risk. 

Simon Parkinson, Chief Executive & General Secretary of The WEA said:  

“We call on the decision-makers and those who can inform them to ensure no-one is left behind by listening to these five requests. It’s easy to show success by supporting those closest to opportunity, but here at the WEA we champion the needs and solutions of those furthest from it.”