Adult catering courses are among those facing funding cuts as the government plans to reduce budgets by an average of 16 per cent to further education colleges.
The Association of Colleges (AoC) is urging the Chancellor to re-think the £200m cut to funding for adult learning that will mainly affect vocational courses such as catering, hairdressing and mechanics.
Julian Gravatt, AoC assistant chief executive, said: "We know that the Treasury is under significant pressure to further curtail public spending but cutting courses that are so essential to our recovery is a false economy."
According to a survey by the AoC of 147 colleges, 63 per cent face cuts of more than 20 per cent with cuts ranging from 10 to 25 per cent overall.
Short term fix
Steve Thorpe, head of hotel school at City College in Norwich, where 15 per cent of students on catering courses are post-19, said he had expected cuts, but thinks it will have an adverse effect on the future economy.
"In reality when you consider that the country's in dire straits financially we expected to see it, but if you expect to be able to compete on a global scale vocational skills are the one area where we can, so to diminish the funding is just short term fixing," he said.
Thorpe said the onus may fall on employers to offer more training in-house in the future: "The larger players in the hospitality industry have in-house training facilities but the SMEs don't have anything formal set up, so are just relying on the government."
He said although more money was being put into apprenticeships, not all people were suited to taking them.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said the government would still be spending more than £3.5bn on further education and skills in 2010-11 'to support the current workforce as they develop skills for future growth'.
"It is more important than ever before that our investment in skills is smart and we must focus on improving value for money by purchasing only high quality training and by maximising the contribution towards training from businesses and individuals where they see the highest private returns," it said in a statement.