Commenting on Liberal Democrat plans for a “new era of learning throughout life”, Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“In light of the figures which show that participation in government-funded adult further education has fallen by 3.5% in the first two quarters of 2018-19 on last year's equivalent figures, NEU welcomes the commitment to empower people to develop new skills so that they can thrive in the UK’s technology and industry sectors. This is a positive and much needed proposal.

“We know that, following years of devastating funding cuts to Further Education, there is a huge lack of adult education provision in many areas of the country. It is not clear, however, how this proposed passport system will increase the quantity let alone the quality of adult education. Increasing demand can only make a difference if there is provision available, and voucher systems have been shown to increase the supply of poor-quality adult education at the expense of well-taught and well-resourced courses.

“It should be remembered that FE is the main provider for non-university adult learners, including SEND young adults, ESOL for adults of all ages and adult returners, who come into FE to improve their English, maths and digital skills as well as to learn vocational skills.”