Further Education in a time of Recession

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2009 Local Government Service Group Conference
20 February 2009

Conference believes that the Further Education (FE) sector has a vital role to play in helping to retrain and re skill people who will sadly lose their jobs as a result of the recession.

Conference therefore welcomes the additional money being allocated to the FE sector in England to fund learning and skills development in a time of recession. For example the Government has recently allocated £100 million for a programme focused on individuals made redundant, or under notice of redundancy, to help them find alternative employment. All the indications are that more money will be allocated to these sorts of projects in the near future. This is a welcome contrast to the approach called for by some in the Conservative opposition to let the recession take its course.

Conference notes that recent Government policy has seen FE funding increasingly targeted at employer led training. For example, the employer training programme, Train to Gain. Though it is welcome that Train to Gain is targeted at those with the lowest skills it has come at the expense of other budgets.

Conference is very concerned that this refocusing of funding has led to cuts in various other types of adult learning offered by FE. The Campaigning Alliance for Lifelong Learning (CALL) estimate that over 1.4 million places in English adult education have been lost since 2006 as a result of cuts in funding and increases in course fees. This has also resulted in job losses for some of our members working in adult education.

Conference believes it is vital that at a time of recession adult learning needs to be simultaneously expanded, resourced and promoted alongside work based skills training. Conference therefore calls on the Local Government Service Group Executive to:

1)Continue to assert the right of all to benefit from lifelong learning

2)Lobby Government and devolved administrations for increased public funding for FE and adult education

3)Work with CALL to seek to reverse government policy of withdrawing funds for Equivalent and Lower Qualifications (ELQ)

4)Campaign for the restoration of Government funding for so called short and low level courses

5)Work with the other education unions to defend the jobs of members working in adult education

6)Argue for greater flexibility in course provision so for example if last years under spend in Train to Gain is repeated the surplus money can be redirected into adult learning

7)Continue to be an active member of the Campaigning Alliance for Lifelong Learning (CALL)

8)Oppose all cuts in FE courses and staffing, and to co-operate fully with the UCU and other unions in lawful action against them