Criticism over cuts to adult learning budgets in Wales

NIACE Dysgu Cymru said learning changed people's lives

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A decision to cut the budget for adult community learning has been criticised by the main group representing adult learners in Wales.

NIACE Dysgu Cymru told BBC Wales the Welsh government cuts were short sighted and would mean fewer adults were able to continue their education.

It said adult education was key to increasing jobs and economic growth in Wales.

The Welsh government is considering how it can mitigate the impact of the cuts.

Funding for adult community learning will be reduced by 37.5%, while budgets for part-time further education will be cut by 33%, NIACE said.

Start Quote

There is clear evidence which shows that investment in learning for adults boosts skills levels and improves employability ”

End Quote David Hughes NIACE chief exceutive

Budgets for local authorities are also being reduced by 4%.

David Hughes, chief executive of NIACE, said he understood the Welsh government had to take tough budgetary decisions, but said investment in learning opportunities for adults was key to increasing jobs, economic growth and social justice.

"There is clear evidence which shows that investment in learning for adults boosts skills levels and improves employability," he said.

"There are also additional benefits for employers and individuals, including improved health and wellbeing, community cohesion and social mobility.

"These benefits are increasingly at risk when opportunities for adults to learn are reduced."

Lowest weekly wage

Mr Hughes said joined-up spending across the Welsh government would help reduce the impact of the cuts.

He said more could be made of the resources allocated to Communities First, which helps people in deprived communities gain skills, and the digital inclusion project Communities 2.0, to help boost adult learning.

NIACE said the cuts came at a time when learning challenges in Wales were significant.

PISA international test results showed young people in Wales were lagging behind the rest of the UK in numeracy and literacy skills, while Wales had a higher proportion of adults of working age without qualifications than in England and Scotland, it said.

It added that Wales had the lowest weekly wage, along with the highest proportion of adults with disabilities that limit their daily activities or work, at 14%.

The Welsh government said it had been open about the scale of the financial challenges facing further education, including adult community learning.

"We are considering how we can mitigate the impact of these reductions and will be meeting with local authorities and further education institutions to consider how best to approach delivery in future years," said a spokesman.

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