TUC: PM's adult skills guarantee is a 'paper promise' 

Without the Union Learning Fund, the new level 3 entitlement will only be taken up by a small number of adults, says TUC
17th November 2020, 12:01am

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TUC: PM's adult skills guarantee is a 'paper promise' 

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archive/tuc-pms-adult-skills-guarantee-paper-promise
Adult Education: Boris Johnson's Lifetime Skills Guarantee Is A 'paper Promise' If The Union Learning Fund Is Scrapped, Warns The Tuc 

The prime minister's Lifetime Skills Guarantee will be a paper promise if the government presses ahead with its decision to scrap the Union Learning Fund, the TUC has said. 

In September, Boris Johnson announced that adults without an A level or equivalent qualification will be offered a free, fully-funded FE course to try and provide them with "skills valued by employers".

However days later, Tes revealed that the £12 million Union Learning Fund, which delivers a range of learning and training programmes for adults, would be scrapped in spring 2021. 


Labour: Scrapping Union Learning Fund is 'vindictive'

Union Learning Fund cut: Williamson 'won't apologise'

Background: Union Learning Fund to be scrapped from March 2021


The TUC has said that without support to get adult learners back into learning and help them stick to the courses, the new level 3 entitlement will be a "paper promise" that only small numbers will use.   

Impact of scrapping the Union Learning Fund

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said that union learning was a "rare success story" in adult skills.

"The Union Learning Fund has helped millions of learners gain qualifications in English, maths and ICT over the last 20 years, especially those with few or no prior qualifications," s she said.  

"If ministers want their new skills policy to work, then they need to think about how to engage and support reluctant learners. That's what union learning excels at - getting working people who missed out at school back into learning. Without this crucial help, the new entitlement is just a paper promise.  

"Union learning makes a massive contribution to the UK's adult skills. The proposal to end it in spring 2021 is both puzzling and counterproductive. If we want to boost productivity and help the economy recover faster, then the prime minister must reject the proposal to scrap the Union Learning Fund."

Supporting less confident learners

An independent review of the Union Learning Fund found that unions excel at supporting less confident learners, and at persuading those with few or no qualifications to take up the training opportunities open to them. 

In the review, seven in 10 learners said they would not have taken part in learning or training without union support, which rises to around eight in 10 of those with no prior qualifications. 

The TUC said that even where courses are free of charge, the number of adult learners is falling, and highlighted that the number of adults achieving first level 2 qualifications in English and maths has fallen by 30 per cent since 2010, despite these courses being free. 

However, in the past year, the Union Learning Fund has helped 37,700 learners to take up level 2 training courses in English and maths - a 48 per cent increase on the target of 25,600 set by TUC's education department. 

When speaking in a Westminster Hall Debate on further education funding earlier this month, Labour MP and shadow apprenticeships and lifelong learning minister Toby Perkins said that the scrapping of the Union Learning Fund was a vindictive decision by the government, and was based on "the secretary of state's antipathy towards the trade union sector."

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