The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) has recently announced the final version of its funding rules for the next academic year, with more flexibility being introduced to the Adult education budget (AEB).
A one-year trial means that as a training provider, we will be able to fully fund adult learners on low incomes over the next 12 months. Currently, adults are required to be in receipt of certain benefits in order to receive fully funded training; this change will open it up to adults earning below an annual threshold of £15,726.50.
Here at Newcastle College, we’re positioned at the centre of a wide and diverse community, providing education and skills training to people regardless of their age, background or existing skillset. We offer courses for everyone and our aim us to unlock the potential of anyone who studies with us and help them to achieve their goals.
There are many reasons why adults may return to education, whether it be to improve their English or maths skills to help them into employment, upskill in their current career, pursue a change of direction or because they want to start their own business.
Equally, there are number of challenges which may prevent adults from making that decision, financial constraints being just one of them. It can be daunting and requires investment, not only in terms of money but time, dedication and commitment. As a training provider, we aim to remove as many of those barriers as possible by offering flexible study with part-time, evening and weekend courses, from short and employability courses to professional qualifications and degrees. We also try to make it as clear as possible what the costs of each pathway are and what financial support is available.
Under current rules, many people do not qualify for fully funded or co-funded education. This change could benefit tens of thousands of adults across the country and has the potential to make a huge impact here in the North East.
It will have positive implications for many individuals, especially ESOL learners working part-time while they study and eligible adults who already hold a Level 3 qualification but wish to retrain in a new discipline.
By removing some of the financial barriers associated with retraining, we may now reach those adults in the region who are interested in upskilling but worried about meeting the course costs. Enabling more adults to have access to this kind of funding can only be positive for the local workforce and wider economy and I hope it encourages more people to seek out retraining opportunities so we can help them to unlock their own potential.