Source: Mayor of London
Mayor allocates £10m to help skills sector cope with Covid-19
City Hall analysis shows London’s adult education funding has halved since 2008 global financial crisis
Government should urgently commit to devolving further adult education funding to the capital – or risk undermining London’s long-term recovery from Covid-19, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has warned.
The calls comes following City Hall analysis showing that London’s adult education funding has been halved since the global financial crisis of 2008. The Mayor is calling for London’s AEB to be restored to 2008 levels – up to £640 million – to ensure it has the resources it needs to support Londoners to retrain and reskill in the wake of the economic upheaval caused by coronavirus.
The Mayor also today revealed which skills providers have been awarded a share of his £10.3 million Covid-19 Emergency Recovery Support Fund (ERSF) to help them through the challenges of the pandemic.
A total of 91 providers, across all 33 London boroughs, have each been allocated between £25,000 and £200,000 for measures to create Covid-secure facilities and ensure learners can access courses remotely – such as installing Perspex screens, buying thermal scanners, refitting reception areas and providing learners with laptops or tablets.
Successful applicants include further education colleges, charities, local authorities, private sector colleges and institutes of adult education.
The coronavirus pandemic has created huge challenges for the capital’s skills sector – but delivering a skills and employment programme to meet the needs of Londoners, businesses and the capital’s communities will be crucial in supporting the economic recovery of the city and the UK as a whole.
The Government devolved £306 million in Adult Education Budget (AEB) funding to London – which funds education and training for Londoners aged 19 and above – for 2019/20, rising to £332 million by 2020/21. This is half the amount the city received before the financial crisis of 2008.
Since the Mayor took control of the capital’s AEB he has made a series of crucial interventions to support providers and help ensure Londoners have the skills they need.
These include extending full funding of courses to people earning below the London Living Wage, to Londoners with hearing issues training for a first qualification in British Sign Language, and fully funding level 3 qualifications – the equivalent of an A-level – for unemployed Londoners and those on low wages who would not otherwise be eligible.
Sadiq believes the increase in the Adult Education Budget must come alongside a wider devolution package where the Mayor and London boroughs can bring together skills, employment and careers advice in an integrated way for Londoners affected by the pandemic.
The Mayor has previously highlighted the impact of the pandemic on employment levels in London and across the UK. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the number of Londoners claiming unemployment-related benefits rose by 165 per cent between March and September, from 304,750 to 489,800 – far higher than the 120 per cent increase in the same period for the country as a whole (1).
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “London’s dynamic skills sector has a huge role to play in helping many thousands of Londoners retrain and get new jobs amidst the terrible economic and social disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“London’s Adult Education Budget has halved since the 2008 recession – now is the moment for the Government to reverse that damage and devolve more adult education funding to our city to support our recovery.”
Cllr Clare Coghill, London Councils’ Executive member for Skills and Employment, said: “The seismic impact of the coronavirus pandemic on London’s economy cannot be underestimated. London’s communities will be looking to local skills providers for courses, training and workshops that equip them to deal with the challenges ahead, such as unexpected job losses and the need to improve digital skills.
“The success London has had with the devolved Adult Education Budget and Work and Health Programme proves that more local control over skills funding and commissioning works. Our colleges and training providers are now better able to tailor their offer to the local jobs market and forge relationships with local employers.
“We are making the case to Government for an increased Adult Education Budget alongside far more ambitious skills devolution so London boroughs and the Mayor can work with local skills providers to fully support people from all walks of life to navigate a challenging time and emerge ready to seize new opportunities and power the rebuilding of London’s economy.”
Mary Vine-Morris, Area Director (London) and National Lead Employment of the Association of Colleges, said: “Colleges have worked extremely hard to ensure their students and staff are safe amidst the ongoing pandemic and the Covid-19 Emergency Recovery Support Fund helped many in the capital to cover some of the increased costs. The pandemic is far from over, and as many as a third of students in some London colleges do not have their own laptop, tablet or adequate WIFI to fulfil their studies, so this commitment from the London Mayor is very welcome. Colleges work closely with the Mayor and the GLA and are committed to meeting the ongoing economic and social challenges faced by London and Londoners.
“Rising unemployment is worrying and Londoners will need easy access to retraining and upskilling opportunities to recover from the effects of Covid. We support the call for London’s AEB to be restored to 2008 levels to tackle the unprecedented challenges we are facing and we support a joined up approach to employment and skills programmes. This will ensure that people quickly get back into secure jobs. We welcome and agree that colleges are central to London’s recovery and rebuild, but they must have the resources they need to play their full role.”
The Mary Ward Centre in central London is one of the skills providers which will benefit from funding through the Mayor’s funding.
Suzanna Jackson, CEO of the Mary Ward Centre, said: “This vital funding from the Mayor of London enables us to make the necessary investment in providing safe and effective face-to-face learning, at a time when people need it more than ever. The impact of Covid-19 restrictions on our income means this would simply not have been possible without the Mayor’s support.”