Here are my thoughts on the economic environment right now:
Government spending on education increased from $9 billion in 2008 to around $11.6 billion in 2012. From 2012 we have seen a slowdown in education spending from $12.3 billion in 2013 to a projected $12.3 billion again in 2014, and up to $12.4 billion in 2014 with incremental increases forecast each year.
Dedicated funding to adult literacy and numeracy seems to have mirrored this trend with government interested in the benefits of increasing the literacy and numeracy levels of the wider population, but perhaps cautious about expanding funded programmes due to the lack of rigorous evidence on the benefits of training and whether it materially affects economic performance.
There is certainly a good case to make for adult literacy and numeracy training with regards to increasing workforce productivity. Also, foundation-focused literacy and numeracy skills development should impact on the uptake of other technical qualifications. However, without a research basis for this it remains a largely untested assumption.
The current Tertiary Education Strategy (2014-2019) includes improving literacy and numeracy as a priority. The strategy recognises that basic skills in literacy, language, and numeracy are essential to participate fully in the modern world, particularly due to the increasingly based nature of jobs.
From our perspective as a non-SAC funded provider there is a lot of uncertainty around the ALEG funding that we receive, particularly if there is a slowdown on relevant funding.
Currently, it seems that this fund will continue into 2015. Our 2015 investment plan submission later this year will give us an indication of what the funding situation will look like for the next 12 months.