Northeast business leaders have urged the government to expand the adult education service. The need to address the skills shortage in the region has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Northeast England Chamber of Commerce said adult education has been underfunded for a number of years, with attendance rates in the northeast being the lowest in the country.
The Conservatives had made the continuing education system a priority in their manifesto for the 2019 elections and needed to act to remove some of the barriers to lifelong learning.
Chamber Chief Executive James Ramsbotham said: “Our region is facing many structural economic challenges that will fundamentally change the way the competency system works. These challenges include not only the Covid-19 pandemic, but also Britain’s exit from the European Union and the switch to more automation and digitization.
“The pandemic has accelerated technological development quickly. It is therefore the responsibility of the skills system to help people get back to work and, if necessary, to help new sectors of the economy. Studies have consistently shown a strong correlation between adults who complete training courses and return to work successfully, especially for non-graduates.
“Ensuring that our skills system is fit for purpose is an essential part of future prosperity and the Northeast’s ability to improve. The northeast has entered this crisis with an already high unemployment rate, making the region disproportionately vulnerable to a national rise in unemployment. “
The Chamber Letter was jointly signed by Darren Hankey, Director of Hartlepool College, and Nadine Hudspeth, Director of Communications at Gateshead College and Chair of the Chamber’s Education and Skills Forum.