General election: focus on adult education

All three major political parties have vowed to focus on adult education over recent weeks. Below is a rundown of what has been promised, and what it means for adult learning.

The Liberal Democrats have pledged to focus on adult education

It was recently reported that the Liberal Democrats have pledged to focus on adult education, by giving every adult in the UK £10,000 to put towards education and training.

The party is referring to this as a ‘new era of learning throughout life’ and propose providing several payments, adding up to the total of £10,000, over a 30 year period.

It’s unclear at the moment how this will work in reality, and if the focus will be on higher education courses, or alternatives such as apprenticeships. A Liberal Democrat spokesperson has suggested that the plans will include expanding the Office for Students’ (OfS) current remit to monitor a range of providers and course types.

Labour promises free jobs retraining for adults

Labour has proposed a £3bn plan to offer adults in England free access to re-training.

It’s suggested that this will be a cost per year, with the hope of reaching an additional 300,000 people per year, to help with upskilling.

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner wants to "throw open the door" to adults wanting to learn new skills stating this plan will help people "who want to change career, are made redundant or didn't get the qualifications they needed when they were younger".

The Conservative Party pledge £3bn for ‘new National Skills Fund’

The Conservative Party has vowed to launch a £600 million a year ‘new National Skills Fund’ if they form a government after the general election on 12 December.

This has been promised as new funding in addition to the existing skills funding, and is described as a “Right to Retrain” fund, which will incorporate adult learning to “empower millions of people in the future with the skills to achieve their potential, keep pace with technological change and embrace lifelong learning.”

So, what does this mean?

It means that all three major political parties see the value of enhancing and promoting continued learning. As life expectancy increases and automation threatens to take over the workforce, there’s never been more need for individuals to upskill and evolve with the changing landscape of employment.

Additional focus on adult learning as well as increased budgets means that the qualifications available will inevitably increase. This means that as an awarding organisation we’ll need to continue to invest in and enhance our provision for adult learners, and providers and centres will need to work even closer with employers and other educators to ensure the opportunities for learners, and adult learners in particular, continue to grow and that they are fit for purpose.

Find out more about NCFE’s offering and funding.

Stephen Mordue
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Matthew Burton
Matthew Burton
Matthew Burton is the head teacher at Thornhill Community Academy in Dewsbury and appeared on Channel 4’s Educating Yorkshire. Matthew has written for NCFE about making pivotal curriculum decisions on behalf of learners.