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Calls for government to inject £1.3bn into adult worker training

A report conducted by the Social Market Foundation (SMF) has called for ministers to inject an extra £1.3bn a year into adult education.

The demands come off the back of claims that a 50% decline in funding for adult education over the last decade has left workers unprepared for economic change. 

In the report, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), the SMF found that the number of workers participating in adult education has fallen from 29% in 2004 to 15% today.

If continued, the decline could reportedly lead to greater unemployment and the UK economy could fall “further and further behind other major economies”.

Aveek Bhattacharya, chief economist at the SMF, said: “For years, too many people at Westminster have ignored and neglected adult education and skills policy as boring issues that only mattered to other, poorer people. 

“That neglect left millions of workers unprepared for economic change and threatens to hold back any economic recovery from the pandemic.”

Accelerated by the pandemic, unemployment has recently hit 4.8%, with 314,000 redundancies recorded between July and September.

Helen Barnard, director at the JRF, said: “With redundancies reaching a record high, we need to urgently invest in large scale skills and re-training programmes to help adults who have lost their jobs access new opportunities. 

“Government should commit to a major expansion in adult skills and education at this month’s spending review.”

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