Responding to the publication of the Augar Review of Post-18 Education and Funding, Stephen Evans, chief executive of Learning and Work Institute, said;
“Most will focus on tuition fees and higher education, but it is great to see this long-awaited report recognising the compelling economic and social case for better investment in further education.
“The drive to increase participation in higher education has paid dividends, but we are too focused on full-time undergraduate degrees for young people. The review is right that we need a clearer higher technical education route for learning throughout life.
“The number of adults improving their skills has halved over the last decade, nine million adults lack functional literacy or numeracy, and the number of young people gaining GCSE and A Level equivalent qualifications has stalled. We must urgently reverse this if we are to meet our post-Brexit skills needs. So the review’s recommendations, including providing funding for adults to get a first level 2 and level 3 qualification, are welcome. The introduction of loans for adults to learn at this level has led to a one third fall in learning, so better funding could really help adults stuck in low paid work to get the skills they need to progress.
“But the Government should be more ambitious. With productivity and social mobility having stalled, with rapidly advancing technology transforming the world of work, and with Brexit on the horizon, investing in lifelong learning has never been more important.
“Recent Learning and Work Institute research showed that progress in boosting the skill levels of our workforce has stalled, and we’re at risk of falling behind other countries in the 2020s. We called for an additional £1.5 billion investment to drive productivity and social mobility. The Augar Report has called for less than half that amount. It is a welcome start but the next Prime Minister should make a higher ambition a top priority.”