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Adult Education: Unemployed People

Volume 679: debated on Monday 7 September 2020

We understand that ensuring adults can access the training they need is vitally important and more important than ever. Latest figures show that between August 2019 and April 2020 over 195,000 learners, out of a total of 1,624,000 further education learners over 19, benefited from support for the unemployed. We are supporting people by investing £1.34 billion in 2020-21 in adult education and we are investing £2.5 billion over the course of this Parliament in the National Skills Fund.

I thank the Minister for her response. The Centre for Ageing Better highlights the fact that the number of older workers on unemployment-related benefits more than doubled to over 600,000 in July. The Minister will know that the core adult education budget is still frozen in cash terms at last year’s amount. Those who are recently unemployed or redundant and who want to access training or retraining to upskill often cannot afford it, or risk losing universal credit if they do so. The Minister will not, I am sure, want that to sum up the Government’s approach to lifelong learning, so will she meet me, Ruskin College and West Thames College to hear about the issues we are facing in Hounslow, an aviation community, and to give people hope so that they, too, can have the opportunity to move on and get back into work?

We are, of course, absolutely committed to helping everybody who may find themselves looking for a job during this period through no fault of their own to have access to training at any age, at any stage. That is why the Chancellor set out his plan for jobs to give businesses confidence to retain, hire and get careers back on track. That includes £1.6 billion of scale-up employment training support and apprenticeships. We are investing in high-quality careers provision, incentivising employers to hire new apprentices, tripling the number of sector-based work academy placements and doubling the number of work coaches. We are also investing £2.5 billion, which will be available in April 2021. I am sure the colleges will be very much looking forward to that. We are working to make sure that everyone has access to training. I am, of course, very happy to meet colleges and will be very happy to do so with the hon. Lady.