Since 1997, FE funding has increased by pound;2.5bn, a rise of 48 per cent in real terms. Student numbers have risen by more than 800,000 and more are completing courses successfully. We are broadly maintaining expenditure on adult learning, and there is a slight increase from pound;2.8bn in 20056 to pound;2.9bn in 20078. But the pattern of this learning will change as we focus more on our priorities, helping disadvantaged adults to gain basic and level 2 (GCSE-equivalent) skills and progression to level 3 (A-level equivalent).
Basic skills are vital. For those without them, the disadvantage can be crippling. We have already helped millions of adults to improve their skills, and nearly 1.3 million of them have gone on to achieve a first qualification.
It is right that the Government focuses resources on those who need it most. We are committed to reducing by 40 per cent the number of adults who do not have the minimum skills for employability. There are some 12 million adults in England without level 2 qualifications. Of these, some 9 million are of working age. Level 2 is a springboard to a decent job, good training or better qualifications.
Bill Rammell Minister for further and higher education and lifelong learning Department for Education and Skills, London SW1