Wales politics

College cutbacks 'difficult' for adult learners

Gower College in Swansea
Image caption Gower College in Swansea is one institution that has received funding for its buildings

Further education colleges in Wales are bearing more than their fair share of cuts within the sector, according to the organisation representing them.

Mark Jones, chair of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, said three years of cutbacks will make it a "difficult" time for adult learners.

His warning comes as £28m could be cut from education and skills in the Welsh government's draft budget for 2015/16.

The Welsh government said it will work to manage the impact of any cutbacks.

Mr Jones, who is also the principal of Gower College in Swansea, said there are inefficiencies within other areas of the education sector in Wales.

Speaking to the BBC's Sunday Politics Wales programme, he said: "We've had two tough years already, we had a cut two years ago, we had a cut this year.

"The sector, for example, spent £9m on restructuring last year to get ready for this year.

"The sector this year will have a surplus of about 1% which isn't enough money to reinvest in all the facilities and equipment and the staff we need.

Apprenticeships

"On top of that 1% we're expecting somewhere between a 3.2% and 5% cut going forward."

He said he understood many cuts would affect adult learners aged 19 and over.

"Adult learning is very complex - it's not just about adults coming in to do a two-hour week IT or French course," he explained.

"It's all about apprenticeships, it's all about us working in industry to develop employees - there are different parts of adult learning, but that's likely where the hits are going to be."

Mr Jones said further education in Wales had been through lots of changes but the quality has improved "dramatically".

Julie James, the newly appointed Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, conceded further education colleges faced difficult times.

"They are hit, there's no doubt that," she said.

"But they agree with our priorities and they've been extremely cooperative with us. We've put an enormous amount of additional funding into college buildings.

"We agree lots of the courses are going to be struggling a little but we have European Social Fund bids in to mitigate some of that and we expect our employers to step up to the plate as well."

Watch Sunday Politics on BBC1 Wales at 14:15 BST on Sunday.

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