Learning in the Cold - new policy pamphlet on the cost-of-living crisis and post-16 education and skills

New Campaign for Learning paper is a comprehensive examination of the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on all aspects of post-16 education 

Campaign for Learning publishes today (Thursday 20th October) Learning in the Cold: The Cost-of-Living Crisis and Post-16 Education and Skills.   

With the nation in the grip of a severe and uncertain cost-of-living crisis and the latest UK inflation rate now above 10%, Learning in the Cold sets out the impacts of the cost-of-living crisis on learners, prospective learners, providers and employers in the post-16 education system.   

For the first time, perspectives from across the post-16 education and skills sector are brought together in one paper, providing a comprehensive view on the scale of the challenges and, through recommendations, what needs to be done to sustain participation in learning and training. 

Learning in the Cold includes seventeen contributions and recommendations from representative bodies, think tanks, and skills and labour market consultants. 

Together, they examine the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on:  

  • post-16 learners in all forms of education and training; 
  • post-16 year-olds who are employed, unemployed or economically inactive but not in full-time education and are claiming welfare benefits; 
  • employers and their own investment in training, demand for apprenticeships and engagement in publicly-funded post-16 education and skills more widely, and
  • post-16 education and training providers as trading organisations, as employers of the education and training workforce, as owners of assets which could be used as warm spaces, and the deliverers of education and training opportunities during the winter and beyond. 


Julia Wright, National Director at Campaign for Learning, said: 

“Post-16 students, employers and post-16 providers are in the middle of the ever-worsening cost-of-living crisis. The contributors in our pamphlet shine a light on the different impacts of the cost-of-living crisis on different areas of post-16 education, skills and employment. 

“Without action in the Medium-Term Fiscal Plan on Monday 31st October participation and achievement in post-16 education and training could fall as the country faces a cost-of-living crisis fueled by elevated energy costs, rising food and petrol prices, and higher interest rates. 

“By bringing together these different perspectives and recommendations, we hope the Government will be better placed to formulate a comprehensive policy response to sustain participation in learning in the weeks and months ahead.” 

Contributors articles and recommendations in Learning in the Cold: The Cost-of-Living Crisis and Post-16 Education and Skills.   

  • Louise Murphy, Economist, Resolution Foundation: The Cost-of-Living and the Energy Crisis for Households 
  • James Kewin, Deputy Chief Executive, Sixth Form Colleges Association: The Cost-of-Living Crisis and 16-19 Year-Olds in Full-Time Further Education 
  • Becci Newton, Public Policy Research Director, Institute for Employment Studies: The Cost-of-Living Crisis and 16-18 Year-Olds in Jobs with Apprenticeships 
  • Zach Wilson, Senior Analysis Officer and Andrea Barry, Analysis Manager, Youth Futures Foundation: The Cost-of-Living Crisis and 16-24 Year-Olds ‘Not in Full-Time Education’ 
  • Nick Hillman, Director, Higher Education Policy Institute: The Cost-of-Living Crisis and Full-Time and Postgraduate Higher Education 
  • Liz Marr, Pro-Vice Chancellor – Students, The Open University: The Cost-of-Living Crisis and Part-Time Higher Education in England 
  • Steve Hewitt, Further Education Consultant: The Cost-of-Living Crisis: Access to HE and Foundation Year Programmes 
  • Sophia Warren, Senior Policy Analyst, Policy in Practice: The Cost-of-Living Crisis, Universal Credit, Jobs and Skills Training 
  • Paul Bivand, Pensioner and Labour Market Consultant: Economic Inactivity by the Over 50s, the Cost-of-Living Crisis and Adult Training 
  • Aidan Relf, Skills Consultant: The Cost-of-Living Crisis and Employer Demand for Level 2-7 Apprenticeships 
  • Mandy Crawford-Lee, Chief Executive, UVAC: The Cost-of-Living Crisis and Employer Demand for Level 4+ Apprenticeships and Part-Time Technical Education 
  • Simon Parkinson, Chief Executive, WEA: The Cost-of-Living Crisis and Adult Community Learning 
  • David Hughes, Chief Executive, AoC: The Cost-of-Living Crisis and FE Colleges 
  • Jane Hickie, Chief Executive, AELP: The Cost-of-Living Crisis and Independent Training Providers 
  • Susan Pember, Policy Director, HOLEX: The Cost-of-Living Crisis and Adult Education Providers 
  • Martin Jones, Vice-Chancellor and David Etherington, Professor of Local and Regional Economic Development, Staffordshire University: The Cost-of-Living Crisis – The Response of Staffordshire University
  • Chris Hale, Policy Director, Universities UK: The Cost-of-Living Crisis and Universities 

The paper concludes with recommendations from Campaign for Learning.  

Commenting on the policy action needed, Mark Corney, Senior Policy Adviser said: 

“Policy makers should expect participation to fall in all forms of post-16 learning because learners have squeezed incomes to live and learn, and employers will need to put energy and wage bills before training. 

“To help sustain participation in learning, the policy response should emphasise taxpayer support for living costs.   

“For 16-19 year-olds, the government should maintain, increase and extend 16-19 child benefit, 16-19 child allowances within Universal Credit and 16-19 bursary grants. 

“For full students in full-time and part-time higher and further education, the government should increase and extend maintenance loans, adult bursary grants and Universal Credit paid to out-of-work and in-work claimants. 

“In terms of funding of provision, 16-19 funding should be increased to deliver better and more free meals to students in schools and colleges this winter, and up-front cash contributions should no longer be required for courses funded through the Adult Education Budget and employers supporting apprenticeships.” 

Access the full paper on our report page