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Welsh government pledges to protect FE

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The further education sector in Wales will be spared further budget cuts and a further 2,500 apprenticeships will be created, according to the Welsh government’s spending plans.

The Welsh draft budget for 2016-17, announced today, will provide an additional £5 million to the sector in a push to create more apprenticeships and safeguard FE provision across the country.

Speaking in Wales’ national assembly, the Sennedd, Jane Hutt, minister for finance and government business, said: “The clear message is that in a time of austerity we simply can’t afford not to invest in these services. I have listened carefully to what people and organisations across Wales told me about what matters to them most.

“This dialogue has translated into additional funding for schools, for the NHS… [and] for further education,” she continued.

CollegesWales, the body that represents Wales’ 14 FE colleges, said that the draft budget will “relieve” FE college principals who will feel like protection has been given to the further education budget.

Iestyn Davies, chief executive of CollegesWales, said, “The last few years have been exceptionally challenging for the further education sector, with three years of cuts including a reduction of £17 million in colleges’ allocation this year. 

“The specific cut of 50 per cent cut to adult part-time learning has limited the opportunities to earn as you learn. We are therefore relieved that the Welsh government has recognised the need to protect the further education budget next year.”

Owing to continued cuts to FE provision in Wales, it was revealed last year that the total number of learners at FE institutions had decreased by almost 10 per cent after a previous two-year increase.

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