Further education bodies call for Budget investment #loveFE #investinFE

Date: 03.11.17
Joint union letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer on FE funding.

3 November 2017

Further education bodies call for Budget investment

In a joint letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, ten bodies representing further education staff, students and providers have called for extra funding to ensure a “stable and well-resourced further education sector” which can meet different needs and ambitions.

The letter, sent ahead of the Budget on 22 November, warns that “successive cuts have weakened our nation's skills infrastructure and reduced the availability of learning opportunities for young people and adults”, pointing to the loss of over a million adult learners and thousands of staff from the sector.

The letter is co-signed by the University and College Union, UNISON, the Association of Colleges, the National Union of Students, the Association of School and College Leaders, the National Education Union, Holex, the Third Sector National Learning Alliance, the Learning and Work Institute and Voice.

Voice General Secretary Deborah Lawson said:

“At a time of skills shortages and economic uncertainty because of Brexit, it is essential that the Government invests in further education for the future, for the sake of young people, adult learners and the economy.”

Joint letter:

Dear Chancellor

Investment in further education

In her speech to the Conservative conference last month, the Prime Minister outlined a desire for everyone to have the opportunity to study more after they leave school.

This commitment is not only important for individual social mobility; it will also be crucial for boosting the UK's productivity, addressing skills gaps and encouraging economic growth.

To ensure that everyone can access the learning they require after school, we need a stable and well-resourced further education sector which can cater to a wide range of needs and ambitions.

However, successive funding cuts have weakened our nation's skills infrastructure and reduced the availability of learning opportunities for young people and adults. While the government has made welcome commitments to expanding technical education and apprenticeships, other areas of learning - many of which support the most vulnerable in our society - have been scaled back. Over one million adult learners have been lost from further education, and thousands of talented staff have left the sector as their jobs have been cut and their pay and conditions eroded.

Investment in technical learning alone is not sufficient to reverse the impact of these cuts or to meet the country’s skills needs. Many people require different, flexible educational opportunities to support their progression from school into higher level learning or employment, build confidence and resilience, develop basic skills or return to education in later life.

Unless we ensure that further education is well placed – and funded - to meet these different needs, too many people will remain unable to access the qualifications and jobs which support higher productivity and economic growth.

That’s why we, on behalf of staff, students, education leaders and providers, are asking you to pledge additional investment for further education in your Budget on 22 November, to support more and better learning opportunities for young people and adults. There are few spending commitments which could have greater transformative potential – both for individuals and our economy.

Yours sincerely

Sally Hunt, General Secretary, University and College Union

Dave Prentis, General Secretary, Unison

David Hughes, Chief Executive, Association of Colleges

Shakira Martin, President, National Union of Students

Kevin Courtney and Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretaries, National Education Union

Geoff Barton, General Secretary, Association of School and College Leaders

Sue Pember, Director of Policy, Holex

Tim Ward, Chief Executive Officer, Third Sector National Learning Alliance

Stephen Evans, Chief Executive, Learning and Work Institute

Deborah Lawson, General Secretary, Voice


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