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adult education budget

Adult Education Budget Alternatives: What options have you got?

The UK government has placed high emphasis and funds on adult education and skills policies. This is proven by the different government-funded programs, like the Adult Education Budget, that are readily available.

These programs are targeted to bridge the skills and education gap among young adults, each with different eligibility requirements.

The Adult Education Budget is one government-funded programme that enables eligible adults to develop their skills, improve employability, and build confidence.

However, you do not have to worry if you are not eligible for this programme, as several alternatives will be discussed in this article.

So, if you want to know more about the different Adult Education Budget Alternatives, keep reading.

But first, let’s discuss the Adult Education Budget and how it works, shall we?

What is the Adult Education Budget?

The Adult Education Budget (AEB) is a long-standing government-funded programme that targets adults above the age of 19 with low education and skill levels. The AEB funds level 3 qualifications and below for these young adults. Besides, this programme was developed to address the skills and education shortages in UK young adults.

Employers also take advantage of this funding to improve the skill set of their employees and enhance their career progression. Low waged learners above 24 can also get funding for level 2 or 3 qualifications.

Plus, some of the specific qualifications funded by the AEB are:

  • English and mathematics
  • Essential Digital Skills qualifications
  • English for non-native English speakers
  • Traineeship
  • Adult community learning
  • First full qualification at level 2
  • First full qualification at level 3

These courses are delivered by different learning providers like sixth-form colleges, independent training providers, universities, adult learning institutes, further education colleges, and employers.

Since 2019, Mayoral Combined Authorities (MCAs) and the Greater London Authority (GLA) have been responsible for the annual fund management and allocation.

Now that we’ve discussed the Adult Education Budget, let’s look at the alternatives, shall we?

Adult Education Budget Alternatives

1. National Skills Fund

If you are over 24, you can use the National Skills funding opportunity to get a Level 3 qualification – which you would’ve been ineligible to get with the Adult Education Budget fund.

This programme, launched in April 2021, is dedicated to helping adults get the qualifications and skills needed to improve their career prospects. The National Skills Fund, through the Free Courses for Jobs, allocates over £1 billion to help eligible adults get access to over 400 free Level 3 courses. Plus, it removes age and financial barriers usually included in other adult education funding programs.

These free Level 3 courses available through this fund have been identified as good wage outcome courses –meaning that adults that take these courses have a higher chance of securing good-paying jobs. The National Skills Fund also offers Skills Bootcamps, flexible courses for up to 16 weeks to eligible adults. Some of the courses available through the National Skills Fund include:

  • Agriculture
  • Business management
  • Catering
  • Childcare
  • Digital
  • Healthcare
  • Accounting
  • Engineering
  • Construction
  • Green Skills
  • Hospitality
  • Mathematics
  • Manufacturing
  • Science
  • Medicine
  • Warehousing
  • Teaching
  • Public Services
  • Transportation operations

Like the Adult Education Budget, the National Skills Fund courses are delivered by different learning providers, like universities, independent training providers, employers, and others. If you are eligible for this funding, you can use the National Careers Service course finder to find the free courses you want to apply for.

Additionally, confirm the admissions criteria with the training provider before applying.

2. Advanced Learner Loans

Advanced Learner Loans are UK government-backed funds dedicated to helping individuals with the course costs delivered through a college or independent training provider. Like the National Skills Fund, there is no financial barrier to getting this loan – it is not dependent on your income or credit. Rather, eligibility for this loan is dependent on age, course, nationality, residency status, and training provider.

The eligible courses for these loans must be offered at an approved training provider or college in England and must be of level 3 or higher qualifications. Different funding is available for learners who want to study in Northern Ireland, Scotland, or Wales.

However, the amount of money you get will depend on the course type, course fees, and the maximum available loan for the course. Plus, to apply, you need to register first, but you can also apply by post.

The loan repayments start once your income exceeds the threshold. Alternatively, you will not have to repay the loan if you owe for an Access to Higher Education course – the Student Finance England will write it off.

Besides, the Advanced Learner Loan Bursary Fund is available to help learners with additional costs while studying, like course trips or childcare.

3. UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF)

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) is the UK government’s replacement for the European Structural and Investment Programme, expiring in the UK on March 2023. This fund, launching in April 2023, will primarily target Mayoral Combined Authorities and the Greater London Authority areas to help fulfil the government’s levelling-up goals.

Additionally, the funds will go to local areas across England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland to invest in people, skills, communities, and local businesses.

The UKSPF will provide over £2 billion worth of new local investment funding by March 2025, with different UK areas receiving an allocation. £560 million from the UKSPF will be spent on a numeracy programme called “Multiply”. Some of the objectives of this fund include

  • Boosting core skills and supporting adults with low-level qualifications
  • Supporting disadvantaged people to gain access to skills needed for career progression,
  • Reducing levels of economic inactivity and enhancing productivity and living standards.

Although this fund is more community-based, there are still opportunities for adults to improve their skills and boost their earning potential, like with the Adult Education Budget.

4. Local Flexibilities

Local flexibility is a custom-made offering for adults aged 19-24 who cannot be funded through the AEB to access regulated and non-regulated qualifications from Entry Level to Level 2. It is centred on offering community needs and local skills.

Additionally, it supports independent training organisations and colleges working with adults with low-level qualifications, enabling them to return to the labour market.

Depending on the learner’s age and prior circumstances, the provision of local flexibility is either completely or co-funded.

Learners between the ages of 19 and 23 making headway towards their first complete Level 2 qualification must take an entry or Level 1 course only from local flexibility. Plus, learners aged 19-23 with no complete level 2 can get full funding for a level 2 from the Legal Entitlement list.

5. Traineeships

Traineeships are an education and training programme for adults aged 19 to 24 who prefer to find a job or apprenticeship. This programme gives them the skills and job experience needed to increase their career prospects. This programme is for skills and learning development and does not substitute for a job.

The objective of a traineeship is to enable young people to be ready to take the job market equipped with the right skills and experience. There will be vocational training and qualifications, where the individual will be trained based on the specific type of vocation.

Additionally, the work preparation training aspect will involve job search, interview preparation, interpersonal skill development, and CV writing, enabling learners to have all the essentials needed to get a job.

Learners will also be taught basic skills elements with English, mathematics, and digital. The Work Experience Placement aspect of this programme will ensure that young people are placed with an employer that will enable them to build the experience needed. Besides, you have to search for the traineeships that are available before you apply.

6. Sector-based work academy programme (SWAP)

Like the traineeship, Sector-based work academy programmes allow individuals to learn new skills and experience working in different industries. You can work in any sector of your choice, from construction to warehousing, and are.

This programme targets job seekers claiming Employment and Support Allowance, Jobseeker’s Allowance, or Universal Credit.

SWAPs typically last up to six weeks and consist of pre-employment training, work experience, and interview application training. This programme is done in collaboration with different employers, and they are expected to guide the scheme participants every step of the way.

Wrapping it up

Suppose you are a youth living in the UK and are not eligible for the Adult Education Budget. In that case, several other funding opportunities are available to give you the skills and qualifications needed to advance your career. Some of the alternatives discussed have age and financial barriers, while others don’t.

So, the key is to find the ones you are eligible for and apply, as many of these funds end up being underspent.