Today’s grant letter from Nick Boles provides welcome funding stability to further education after years of public spending cuts and dramatic reductions in the numbers of adults in learning.
David Hughes, chief executive at NIACE said:
"At its heart, this is a radical set of proposals. It supports a new settlement for adult learning which rightly recognises the three main investors in learning – the learner, employers and the state. This is fundamentally the right principle to follow as long as there are entitlements and protections in place to address market failures through investment from government.
"The decision to protect the adult education budget in cash terms in the Spending Review took us all by surprise. I am delighted that the Government heard the many calls for more substantial and stable investments in learning and skills – the country needs it and learners deserve it.
"It’s important to stress that the increased investment requires major changes in practice being delivered successfully, particularly the Apprenticeship Levy and Digital Apprenticeship Service, as well as take-up of Advanced Learner Loans. The gauntlet has been laid firmly at the doors of college and provider leaders to get the most they can from the loans and levy systems – I expect them to be equal to the challenge, but there is much to do.
"NIACE will continue, as the Learning and Work Institute from 1st January 2016, to support the devolution of adult skills and employment services. It is right that local areas have the levers and the funding to deliver better outcomes for people and businesses. In particular, we are looking forward to taking the Citizens’ Curriculum approach to new areas to provide personalised learning offers to people with basic skills needs; promoting the Apprentice Charter to help create high quality and accessible apprenticeship opportunities and developing new models to increase the take-up of Advanced Learner Loans in the New Year.
"This will be seen in years to come as a good settlement for learners if colleges, providers and employers focus on new approaches which deliver high quality, better access and positive outcomes. We will work hard to help make that happen."