Adult education and training in England could cease to exist within five years if government funding cuts continue, it has been claimed.
The stark warning comes from the Association of Colleges, which estimates that 190,000 adult learning places could be lost in the next year alone.
The AoC claims new research, published today, shows 40,000 places could be lost on courses in health, public services and care, with 10,500 more places on ITC programmes also at risk in the next 12 months.
Last month it was revealed that funding through the Skills Funding Agency for adult skills in 2015-16 will be reduced by more than £249 million, an 11 per cent cut on 2014-15.
However, the SFA has set an apprenticeships budget of £770 million, and has estimated that funds available for other non-apprenticeship adult skills will be reduced by almost a quarter (24 per cent) as a result.
The news sparked an angry reaction in the sector, and a petition by the University and College Union (UCU) against the cut has so far gathered more than 20,000 signatures.
The AoC said it is concerned that if the government continues to cut adult skills funding at the same rate, there will no longer be an adult education system by 2020.
Martin Doel, chief executive of the AoC, said: “Adult education and training is effectively being decimated. These cuts could mean an end to the vital courses that provide skilled employees for the workforce such as nurses and social care workers.”
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Vince Cable launches debate on future of adult education – March 2015
Adult skills budget cut by 11 per cent – February 2015