“We need a step change in participation in learning” – Stephen Evans

27 January 2017

For January 2017 the Department for Education has released the latest statistics about learner participation, outcomes and highest qualification held in further education and skills.

Responding to today’s figures, Stephen Evans, Chief Executive of Learning and Work Institute said:

“We welcome the continued rise in apprenticeship numbers. Given the introduction of the Levy in the next few months and the recent confirmation of the public sector target, we believe that the government will reach their 3 million target by 2020. It is critical, therefore that we focus on the quality of apprenticeships and upon ensuring access to all who could benefit from them.

More widely however, this latest release shows a troubling decline in adult participation in further education. Over 800,000 fewer adults are participating in FE, excluding apprenticeships, each year – compared to five years ago. It is of particular concern, given that we know 9 million adults lack basic skills, that nearly 300,000 fewer adults were learning English and Maths in 15/16 than in 11/12.  

“This decline in participation is a consequence of reductions in public funding and that employer and individual investment hasn’t risen to compensate for this.

“For a post-Brexit UK to be a success, and to deliver the ambitions of the Government’s Industrial Strategy, we need a step change in participation in learning. This will require more investment by Government, employers and individuals, as well as new ways of delivering and ensuring learning delivers all it can for our country.”