ColegauCymru, the body which represents colleges throughout Wales, has called on the next Welsh government to stem the decline in adult learners after figures showed a drop of more than 100,000 learners in the last decade.
The body warned that “urgent action” was required to boost adult learner numbers, which are critical when it comes to growing the economy and helping families out of deprivation.
This warning from ColegauCymru comes following the publication of statistics from the Welsh government.
In 2014-15, the total number of people studying in the workplace, at colleges or in the community dropped to 195,700, down from 311,145 in 2005-06.
Further to this, it was revealed that in 2016 alone, the 16 per cent drop in numbers of adults studying part-time at college was almost 16,000.
Community-based learning delivered by local authorities also fell by 31 per cent, with work-based learning down by 12 per cent.
Full-time learning was the only type which remained steady, WalesOnline reported, a path which was mainly followed by those in the 16-19 year old bracket, with 48,935 studying at Welsh colleges in 2014-15.
Challenging the Welsh government over the funding cuts, Iestyn Davies, chief executive of ColegauCymru, told WalesOnline: “Over the last 10 years, the number of people learning beyond compulsory schooling has dropped by well over 100,000; that’s a drop of one third – it’s really quite shocking.
“Learning is critical to growing the economy. It also underpins civil society and supports health and wellbeing. Learning helps provide a route out of poverty and into prosperity.
“Part-time learning is an exceptionally important lifeline to adults who wish to re-enter the workforce or retrain during their working lives.”
He went on to say that continual retraining is a must as jobs requiring new skills are being generated all the time. In such a fast-changing economy, adults should have the opportunity to upskill when this is required.
Virtual College is one of the leading providers of e-learning in the UK. From college through to adult learning, Virtual College offers online learning resources and tools that help with training at each level. For more information, please visit: http://www.virtual-college.co.uk/e-academies/Schools.aspx