Government funding for training could be cut by over £350m, a leaked Whitehall document has revealed.
The proposed cuts are part of the £5bn in immediate savings across all government departments announced by the chancellor in the Budget in April.
The document, marked “Protected – Funding Policy”, was sent on 12 October by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) to the business secretary Peter Mandelson and the skills minister Kevin Brennan, and contained preferred options for cutting the £4bn skills budget, the Guardian has reported.
The cuts would have the most impact on over-19-year-olds wanting to join courses at further education colleges and independent training companies, or become apprentices.
The leaked document revealed that an initial £100m could be found by identifying savings in quangos and administration.
But a further £252m of efficiency savings could hit the delivery of key government programmes, such as Train to Gain, adult apprenticeships and Skills for Life.
According to the BIS document a cut of £100m could mean slashing “a total 133,000 learners from the baseline”, so the total reduction of learners could, therefore, be £335,000.
The document specifically outlined cuts of 10% in funding for over-25 apprenticeships, cutting the budget for the new Adult Advancement and Careers Service (set up last year) by £25m, reducing funding for the Train to Gain programme and cutting jobs and the freezing of salaries for staff at further education colleges.
The government has also drawn up plans to delay the introduction of skills accounts – due to be implemented in 2010-11 to providing over-19-year-olds with up to training worth up to £7,000 – and to halve the number of Career Development Loans.
A BIS spokesman: “It remains our commitment to protect front-line services and identify savings through efficiency measures and improving value for money wherever possible.
“The skills sector has received record investment in recent years and we will shortly be publishing the skills strategy setting out our long-term plans for investment in skills to contribute to the future growth and success of the UK economy.”
Meanwhile, the government is expected to announce on Wednesday the creation of 30,000 jobs for 18- to 24-year olds through the Future Jobs Fund, in areas including healthcare, insulation, computing and engineering, the Independent reported.