Adult learning is a devolved matter in Wales for the Welsh Assembly. If you would like further details please contact your Assembly Member Jenny Rathbone at firstname.lastname@example.org . But several people have got in touch with me about this issue and I would like to take a moment to outline the Labour Party’s position.
At both a UK wide and Welsh level the Labour Party is strongly to committed to lifelong learning provided both by educational establishments and in the community. Lack of skills can be a major barrier to employment with 21% of people who are not employed having no qualifications as compared to 5% of people who have a job.
Adult learning and qualifications can be life changing and we remain committed to continuing to deliver it. The Welsh Government backs community learning projects like Working Links and also uses European Social Funding to fund more opportunities for adults to learn. At a national level the Labour Party has committed to a National Education Service that would provide adults of all abilities and ages with lifelong learning opportunities. Adult learning provides important life experiences and skills which will help people face the challenges of an ageing society as well as automation and artificial intelligentence.
The current Conservative Government has shown that they take a much less supportive view. The budget for adult education services fell by 40% between 2010 and 2015. The new Adult Education Budget will face further cuts this year and next year leading to a total fall of 47% between 2010 and 2019. The Tories have been repeatedly challenged on the collapse in the number of mature students attending UK universities, and have repeatedly dismissed the problem. There were 19,000 fewer mature students in UK universities in 2016 than in 2011 despite overall student numbers rising. This is a direct result of the Tories’ decision to triple tuition fees and replace student support grants with loans.