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(Adult) education, education, education

As Britain faces up to the growing COVID-19 unemployment crisis, remedying the decline in funding and provision of skills and training will be essential for helping workers back into good jobs. This report in particular explores the role that adult education does and could play in improving the labour market outcomes of low-income households. It draws on desk research, quantitative analysis and in-depth interviews with both participants and non-participants in adult education from low-income households, and provides a series of policy considerations.


Funding for adult education (excluding apprenticeships) has nearly halved since 2009/10. Participation rates have suffered similarly, seeing a 49% decline since 2004.

This report examines the state of adult education in the UK – recent trends, how the UK compares with other countries, as well as the benefits of and barriers to adult education participation. It concludes by setting out recommendations for how government can build on its recent announcements. Given devolved powers, our policy recommendations for the most part relate to England.

Our report focuses in particular on the benefits of adult education for those in lower income households, and how government can support adult education participation among this group. Evidence suggests that, at present, those from lower income households are significantly less likely to be participating in adult education and that they are more likely to face barriers to doing so.

Resource Details
Resource author
Social Market Foundation
Type of resource
Studies and Reports
United Kingdom
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