24+ Advanced Learning Loans
Since the introduction of 24+ Advanced Learning Loans, we have worked closely with government, providers and learners to support the development and effective implementation of this policy. We are a member of the 24+ Advanced Learning Loans Stakeholder Group and regularly undertake work for the Skills Funding Agency to develop the information and support available to learners in relation to loans.
Although loans have the potential to provide access to learning for adults who have previously missed out due to the high level of up-front fees, we have also been vocal about the potential impact of the policy on participation in learning and on local labour markets grappling with adult skills gaps. In 2012/13, over 400,000 learners aged 24+ were engaged in Level 3 and 4 learning and skills provision. By 2013/14 the number of 24+ learners on Level 3 provision had fallen by 27% and by 34% at Level 4. The government has recently consulted on extending this policy to a lower age bracket and/or to Level 2 qualifications.
The current figures are indicative of market failure in the learning and skills sector which has yet to capitalise on the policy opportunity that loans might provide for financing and tackling skills shortages amongst the adult working age population across LEP areas of England. With the national budget available for loans now tripled, market development for learning and skills providers remains a major opportunity for addressing local skills shortages in the 24+ population.