In response to the Prime Minister’s announcement about a new £20million community language tuition fund, Learning and Work Institute Chief Executive David Hughes said:
“It’s always good news to see increased investment in learning and skills so I am pleased to hear that English language, and in particular opportunities for women currently excluded from learning, is the Prime Minister’s new priorities for building a more cohesive Britain. However, the £20million community language tuition fund announced yesterday falls far short of the investment we need. In fact, it is only a very partial reinstatement of a budget that has been reduced by almost 50% since 2010. We estimate that this has resulted in a fall from 500,000 ESoL learners in 2006/07 to 139,000 in 2013/14.
Learning English is enormously empowering for people, helping them to integrate into communities, find work and play an active role in society. Demand for learning English is very high and learners tell us all the time about how ESOL has changed their lives and those around them; increased confidence to seek and find work; better able to support children at school and be an active member of the community.
In our policy document, Making Migration Work, we called for a new ESoL strategy to make sure that there is a coherent and joined-up approach to what is a complex challenge, but a challenge which brings all sorts of opportunities. Our economy relies on migration to fill job vacancies, so we need a sophisticated approach to how people can learn English at all levels.
A new strategy could build on our proposed policy solutions to unlock the skills, talents and aspirations of migrants. These include a stronger focus for Government investment in the first steps to learning English, with a facility for people to take out loans to extend their learning to higher levels.
Put simply, Britain needs more people to be able to learn English to help them get on and the Government needs a strategy to help make that happen. I hope that the Prime Minister’s interest in this area translates into more coherent policy across national and local governments”.