Technical education focus welcomed but glaring lack of strategy for adult education

8 March 2017

Budget Response

Following today’s budget, Chief Executive, Stephen Evans responds on behalf of Learning and Work Institute:

“With its focus on technical education and skills being at the heart of the government’s strategy for inclusive economic growth, this Budget provides vital investment in technical education for young people. Further education and skills providers will welcome investment of £500million by 2021/22.

“But with 90 per cent of our 2025 workforce already in the labour market, there remains a glaring lack of strategy and investment in adult education. Growth in apprenticeships is part of the solution, but we need a greater focus on the accessibility and quality of apprenticeships, as our research earlier this week showed. For example, just 600 of 17,500 engineering apprentices last year were women.

“The UK’s productivity record is dismal and living standards for low and middle earners have flatlined since 2008. The Chancellor is right that investment in infrastructure and training will help tackle these, but we saw very little today on training that will deliver the step-change we need for working people to progress in work and increase their earnings. This is essential to help ordinary working families too often stuck with stagnating living standards. And investment in adult education can help to ease pressure on other public services, such as social care.

“The OBR is projecting continued strength in the labour market, one of the great successes of recent decades. However, too many people still miss out on the chance to work. Learning and Work Institute analysis shows that, on current trends, it will take 200 years for the government to meet their ambition to halve the disability employment rate gap. Cutting funding for employment programmes by 80% won’t help. The action needed to accelerate this work, such as greater engagement with disabled people and testing new forms of support, was missing from today’s Budget.

“With the Chancellor acknowledging that differences in tax treatment encourage people to become self-employed, therefore losing out on important employment protections and benefits, we welcome progress towards reducing the tax incentive for self-employment. This needs to be matched with better access to services and support, including training, for self-employed people. We look forward to the Taylor Review to share the next steps on this.”