The 2022 federal budget includes some support for disadvantaged Australians but has missed the opportunity to realise the full benefits of adult education; according to Adult Learning Australia, the national peak body for adult community education (ACE).
Worthwhile initiatives in this year’s budget include continued support for the ReBoot program delivered through the not-for-profit sector, which aims to help young, disadvantaged Australians develop skills and abilities for work.
Other investments in skills and training such as the Technology Investment Boost and the Job Trainer Aged Care Boost, which will see 15,000 low and fee free training places in aged care courses, are welcomed – along with the incentives for small business to invest in staff training.
However, recent ABS data identified that the Australians who could most benefit from work-related adult education have the least access to it such as people who are unemployed or looking for work. This compounds disadvantage and is bad for our economy,’ says Jenny Macaffer, CEO of Adult Learning Australia.
‘The federal government needs to recognise that the ACE sector is a key part of the post-secondary education landscape offering solutions that help to build community resilience in difficult times, especially for those that have fallen through the gaps in our traditional education system.’
‘We need funded policies that enable free, accessible and inclusive adult community education and recognise its crucial role in improving social cohesion and creating pathways to formal training and work for those Australians whose formal education has been disrupted; particularly in rural and regional areas,’ Jenny Macaffer, CEO says.
 Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Work-Related Training and Adult Learning, Australia, 2020-21 financial year