Funding for further education and skills has been cut by over £3 billion in real terms since the Tories came to power, according to an analysis by an independent think tank.
A Labour calculation, based on an analysis by the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies, has found that spending on further education and skills has fallen by £3.3 billion in real terms between 2010-11 and 2017-18.
The cuts have been most severe in adult education, which has seen a real terms cut of nearly £1.7 billion, around 50% of its budget, and further education, which has faced a £1 billion cut that amounts to around 25% of its total budget.
The cuts to further education come as employers have reported another rise in the number of vacancies they are facing as a result of skills shortages. The Government’s own survey of employers found that there was an increase in the number of skill shortage vacancies of around 20,000, up 8% since 2015.
Labour has committed to making further and adult education free at the point of use for all those who need it.
Angela Rayner MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Education, said: “Tory austerity has decimated Further Education. The Tories are overseeing a crisis in our skills and technical education system, their flagship apprenticeships policy lies in tatters and there are well over a million fewer adult learners today than in 2010.
“These huge cuts mean that learners of all ages are denied the opportunities they deserve, and when our education system is cut by billions our society and economy suffers too.
“That is why the next Labour government will invest in every part of our education system, making further and adult education free, as part of a transformative National Education Service that provides free learning from cradle to grave.”